I spoke, last week, to a frantic client who had just received a call, out of the blue, from a lady claiming she was from HMRC, advising him that there was a warrant out for his arrest due to suspected tax fraud. According to our client the lady on the other end of the phone was very convincing, and asked him to confirm his name and postcode. She said to solve this he should press 1 on his phone in order to clear the outstanding debt owed to the Revenue. He had been told that if he didn’t pay over the phone the police would be knocking on the door that evening. Fortunately, despite his fears, he hung up the phone and telephoned the office straightaway to ascertain what he should do next.
He was understandably shaken, and distressed by this call. But I was able to put his mind at rest by reassuring him that he had done the right thing. He had almost fallen victim to one of the latest fraud scams, that attempt to convince unsuspecting people that they’re talking to HMRC to steal their information, and their money.
Others have no been so lucky, and have lost £1000s. HMRC has reported a surge in these bogus calls, with sophisticated fraudsters even using ‘number spoofing’ i.e. cloning an HMRC number so that it appears on your screen and looks genuine.
HMRC has issued the following guidance:
- Recognise the signs -HMRC will never call you out of the blue to ask for your bank details, PIN number or passwords.
- Stay safe – Don’t give out any private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
- Take action – Forward suspicious emails and details of calls claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 if you suffer financial loss.
A HMRC spokesperson said: “We will only ever call you asking for payment on a debt that you are already aware of, either having received a letter about it, or after you’ve told us you owe some tax, for example through a self-assessment return