HMRC has published a new guide on scams, keeping the public up to date on how to spot scams via email. Each year, thousands of innocent taxpayers are targeted with bogus emails purporting to be from HMRC, when they are actually from scammers who are hoping to get their hands on hard-earned cash. Here are five things to look out for if you receive an email ‘from HMRC’.
Fake Email Addresses
Professional scam artists know their game, so they often use email addresses with gov, revenue and HMRC in them, in an attempt to gain trust from the recipient. They can also spoof the email address, so it may say ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ but when you hover over it, the true address will be revealed. If you open the email on an iPhone, you can click the text at the top – the name – to see where it was actually sent from.
Offering a Tax Rebate
HMRC rarely email, and if they do, it will never be to ask for your personal details or to inform you of a rebate. Tax rebates can be attractive to potential victims as they can be a lot of money, which is exactly why scammers offer them to lure you in. HMRC will never ask for your bank details or any personal information, so don’t be fooled by this.
Scam emails are designed to create a sense of urgency, so they may well say ‘urgent action is required’ or ‘you have two days to reply’ in order to get you to respond.
If an email contains links or attachments proceed with caution. The links could lead to a fake website which has been designed to look like HMRC, with a form to disclose all your personal information. Attachments may contain viruses which infiltrate your computer to steal data.
Emails from HMRC will address you with your name, and disclose information about how to spot a scam email. Emails from scammers will open with a general greeting such as dear sir/madam, or ‘hello’.
What to Do if You Get a Scam Email
If you suspect you have received a scam email, do not open any of the links or attachments. You can forward the email to email@example.com, HMRC’s phishing team and they will give you further guidance on what to do.