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Fake HMRC communications causing concern

Taxpayers are being urged to be vigilant of cybercrimes and phishing scams where criminals pretend to be HMRC in order to obtain sensitive personal details.

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The warning comes as HMRC embarks on a number of taxpayer surveys and communications towards the end of 2017.


Phishing scams involve emails, texts, letters, phone calls or faxes which purport to be from HMRC. Some of these fakes are very sophisticated, with many of the scammers using email addresses, websites and logos that look very similar to official HMRC ones.1


Yvette Nunn, co-chair of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) technical steering group, said: “It is important to remember that HMRC will never inform you of a refund or penalty, or ask for personal information by text or email.


“Telltale signs of a phishing attempt include sloppy spelling and grammar, using non-specific forms of address such as ‘Dear Customer’ and stressing the need for urgent action.


“If in doubt, do not open any suspicious emails or texts. If you do open them do not click on any links, open attachments or provide any personal information.”


Official HMRC communications are planned towards the end of 2017. For example:


  • From this month (August), letters inviting households to participate in the annual HMRC customer survey are being sent out. The letters inform customers that they may be contacted by telephone by a representative of Kantar Public. Whether completed online, on paper or on the telephone, the real survey by Kantar will not ask the customer to provide any personal or financial information.


  • From September to November 2017, taxpayers may be telephoned by a representative from Kantar Public asking them to participate in the survey on behalf of HMRC about the dealings people have with them. The real survey will not ask the customer to provide any personal or financial information.


  • From August to October 2017, HMRC and Ipsos MORI will be sending a joint letter to randomly selected individuals inviting them to take part in research on saving and the Help to Save scheme. The real letter does not request any personal, payment or tax-related information at this stage.


Nunn added: “If you want to check whether a communication is genuinely from HMRC you should contact them directly, as you would normally, rather than on any numbers provided. HMRC also publish up-to-date lists of their official communications and examples of known phishing attempts on their website which you can consult.


“It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to phishing.”


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