UK police are warning members of the public this week over scam emails which intend to steal money. The emails, claiming to be from HMRC, include links to websites that look very similar to the HMRC website. There have been hundreds of reports nationally this week about fake emails from HMRC. The emails tell victims that they’re owed money from the Government agency, and ask for personal details, along with bank details and even password information. Both the police and HMRC want to raise awareness to these types of scams.
Action Fraud, a UK scam busting agency, has received hundreds of reports so far this year, and believe that fraudsters are trying to take advantage of the new tax year changes. A spokesperson for HMRC has said that the agency will never contact people by email or text to ask for personal details. Customers will also never be asked to pay for a visa via cash payments or a money transfer. HMRC have also said that they shut down more than 14 000 sites last year, sites which they said are looking “more and more legitimate”. Action Fraud are also on board with the campaign to raise awareness of money-stealing scams.
Scam emails, claiming to be from HMRC, can link to any service they provide, which you can usually get for free or cheaper than how the scammers are marketing it for. For example, some scammers are trying to sell passports and European Health Insurance cards at a heightened price.
This all comes after the arrest of 8 men who have been sentenced following a £1m telephone scam. The men targeted pensioners across the UK, and used the money they obtained to fund people travelling to Syria, some of which have cropped up as ISIS members. One woman, Elizabeth Curtis, 73, lost just over £130 000 of her savings. The men used the guise of ringing her up pretending to be a member of the police. They asked Elizabeth to transfer funds to other accounts, as they believed she was under threat from her bank, who could be stealing her money. A spokesperson for HMRC has said that they believe over half a million pensioners have been affected by the scam, and that the vast majority of victims will be unable to receive their money back. Angela Brooks, the Chairman of Pension Life, noted that the scamming situation in the UK is “out of control” and that she has made complaints to the pensions ombudsman before about the issue.
How To Avoid HMRC Scams
- Type in website addresses yourself. If you’re wary of any links in emails, type them into google and see what kind of results you get. You may find forums of people asking for information on them as well.
- Avoid clicking links in emails sent to you by people claiming to work for HMRC. They will never send emails or texts asking for money.
- If in doubt, message the HMRC twitter account, who can tell you straight away if the email or text is legitimate or not.
- Think before you click. If you see that the individual sending you the email is a jumble of letters or numbers, the email will usually be fake. Try googling the email address, you’ll find that there might be a few people talking about fake emails relating to that email address.
HMRC warn against using shared computers, for example those found in internet cafes or work computers. This is because some passwords may be automatically saved by the browser you’re using. The government agency have also issued a statement saying they plan on tightening security with their 2 factor Authentication system, which is meant to reduce fraud risk. If you have any doubts about any emails or texts you have received, you should contact HMRC.