30 August 2019

How to spot an HMRC scam email

As reports of impersonation fraud increase, HMRC have released guidance on how to spot a scam email and what to do if you receive a message purporting to be from HMRC.

Genuine contact

HMRC’s website contains a list of the companies mandated to contact the public on their behalf and whether by letter, phone or email. If you are contacted by a company claiming to be doing a survey on behalf of HMRC, check out the list first.

Clues in the message

There may be clues in the message itself to help you spot an email scam. Look for spelling mistakes or poor grammar, and check the full email address. Be aware that it is relatively easy to fake a message to look like it comes from an official HMRC address.

What’s in a name?

The way the email starts may be a giveaway. As scammers often do not have your name, the email will not be directly addressed to you. Emails from HMRC address you by the name you have given them.

HMRC have confirmed that their emails will not:
  • 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’ve formally accepted the risks
  • contain attachments, unless you’ve given prior consent and you’ve formally accepted the risks
  • include the words ‘urgent action required’

Finally, if you have any suspicions that an email is fraudulent, do not click on any links in the email. Emails from HMRC will always include a link to their guidance on how to report a scam.

To read the full report and guidance on how to spot an HMRC scam email, visit HMRC’s website here.

For examples of bogus emails and how to spot an HMRC scam phone call, text or other message, visit HMRC’s website here.

For expert advice on any issues you may have, speak to us or subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the page.

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