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Can you trust that convincing call from ‘HMRC’?
You are probably aware that scams of this sort are becoming more prevalent, but they are also expanding in the range of tactics employed, and the intelligence with which their targets are chosen.
You will know of the scenario of the nice lady from HMRC who calls you up to tell you that your PAYE account is in credit, and if you provide her with your personal details, she can refund the tempting amount immediately. Obviously your accountant would have told you about this if it were true! In addition, when has HMRC ever contacted anyone directly to offer a refund – a refund that normally takes weeks or months to come through?
More worrying perhaps is the phone call that demands money to pay off a debt immediately, accompanied by the threat of fines or worse. Evidence suggests that the fraudsters involved in this sort of scam are increasingly targeting older people.
Also growing are the number of calls that leave a message saying that they (“HMRC”) are bringing a lawsuit against the individual, who is asked to call 0161 8508494 and press 1 to speak to the officer dealing with the case.
In addition, at least one Thomas Croft client has received a very convincing “HMRC”-branded email, notifying them of a refund due (with a 5-day deadline to claim through the ‘Government Gateway’). On their behalf, we followed the link, and it again does look very convincing.
Our advice would always be never to disclose any personal information unless you can verify the identity of the person making the call. Be aware of the usual HMRC means of communication – Thomas Croft can always advise here – and be suspicious about anything out of the ordinary. Please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2050.
If you are in any doubt about your position in relation to this issue, please talk to your usual Thomas Croft contact as soon as possible.