Posts Tagged ‘Fraud’

Bogus emails and now, bogus phone calls

Monday, July 4th, 2016

The “phishing” emails sent by nefarious individuals, purporting to be from HMRC, have now been joined by bogus phone calls.

We have received information that taxpayers are being called, apparently by HMRC, and advised that they have significant tax bills to pay and the caller encourages the offended taxpayer to settle the bill during the phone call.

We have reproduced below a warning issued by Action Fraud involving the use of iTunes gift cards:

Action Fraud is warning people of a new trend that has hit the UK where fraudsters contact victims claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and trick them into paying bogus debts and taxes using iTunes gift cards. 

Victims are being contacted in a variety of methods by fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC and are told they owe an outstanding debt. In the hundreds of cases reported to Action Fraud in the past month, the fraudsters all ask for payment in iTunes gift card voucher codes.

Fraudsters are now moving onto iTunes gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and easily sold on. The scammers don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back over the phone.

Fraudsters are contacting victims in three ways:

  • Voicemails: Fraudsters are leaving victims automated voicemails saying that they owe HMRC unpaid taxes. When victims call back on the number provided, they are told that there is a warrant out in their name and if they don’t pay, the police will arrest them.
  • Spoofed calls: Fraudsters are cold calling victims using a spoofed 0300 200 3300 number and convincing them that they owe unpaid tax to HMRC.
  • Text messages: Fraudsters are sending text messages that require victims to urgently call back on the number provided. When victims call back, they are told that there is a case being built against them for an outstanding debt and they must pay immediately.

How to protect yourself:

  • HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.
  • Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display.
  • If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.

You can also report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

HMRC issues warnings and advice regarding fraudulent emails

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

There is a continuing misuse of emails and SMS messages that purport to be from HMRC asking questions about your tax and encouraging recipients to part with their personal information and bank details.

HMRC have recently issued guidance, intended to help taxpayers decide if an email from the tax office is genuine. Here’s what HMRC have said on this topic:

As well as spelling mistakes and poor grammar, there are a number of things you can look out for to help you recognise a phishing/bogus email.

Incorrect ‘From’ address

Look out for a sender’s email address that is similar to, but not the same as, HMRC’s email addresses. Fraudsters often have email accounts with HMRC or revenue names in them (such as ‘refunds@hmrc.org.uk’). These email addresses are used to mislead you.

However, be aware, fraudsters can falsify (spoof) the ‘from’ address to look like a legitimate HMRC address (for example ‘@hmrc.gov.uk’).

If you’re not 100% sure that the message has come from us don’t open it. If you do open the email and you’re in doubt don’t click on any links or downloads.

Examples of phishing and bogus emails

Personal information

Emails from HMRC will never:

  • notify you of a tax rebate
  • offer you a repayment
  • ask you to disclose personal information such as your full address, postcode, Unique Taxpayer Reference or details of your bank account
  • give a non HMRC personal email address to send a response to
  • ask for financial information such as specific figures or tax computations, unless you’ve given us prior consent and you have formally accepted the risks
  • have attachments, unless you have given prior consent and you have formally accepted the risks
  • provide a link to a secure log-in page or a form asking for information – instead we will ask you to log on to your online account to check for information

Urgent action required

Fraudsters ask for immediate action. Be wary of emails containing phrases like ‘you only have 3 days to reply’ or ‘urgent action required’.

Bogus websites

Fraudsters often include links to webpages that look like the homepage of the HMRC website. This is to trick you into disclosing personal/confidential information. Just because the page may look genuine, does not mean it is. Bogus webpages often contain links to banks/building societies, or display fields and boxes requesting your personal information such as passwords, credit card or bank account details.

You should be aware that fraudsters sometimes include genuine links to HMRC web pages in their emails, this is to try and make their emails appear genuine.

Common greeting

Fraudsters often send high volumes of phishing emails in one go so even though they may have your email address, they seldom have your name. Be cautious of emails sent with a generic greeting such as ‘Dear Customer’. Emails from HMRC will always:

  • use the name you’ve provided to us
  • include information on how to report phishing emails to HMRC

Attachments

Be cautious of attachments as these could contain viruses designed to steal your personal information.

The message is clear. If in doubt, do not respond to these emails, and do not provide any personal information requested by email. You could always call a HMRC helpline to clarify if an email is genuine, or discuss the email with your professional advisor.

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