Home > Financial Scams > HMRC Self Assessment: Phishing Scam

HMRC Self Assessment: Phishing Scam

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 4 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Hmrc Security Jobs Service Hmrc Tax Scam

It’s bad enough that we have to pay taxes, and anyone who’s filled out the self-assessment forms from HMRC will know that they’re a minefield to work through. The service has been under fire for losing personal details on over 25 million people through what might well have been lax security.

But now, to add insult to injury, there’s also a new scam involving HMRC. It’s typical of phishing scams, in that it’s strictly an online scam, asking users to go to a website and fill out personal banking details in order to receive a refund. Users are directed to a supposedly secure site and provide their banking details, then allow between six and nine days for the refund to be processed (although they warn that the refund could be “delayed” – in fact, it will never be received, and your bank details will be in the hands of those behind the scam).

Be warned, this is a scam. The mail isn’t from HMRC, and the site is a very good-looking fake. Those who fill out self-assessment forms – essentially people who are self-employed or who have second jobs – should be aware of this online scam.

How to Identify the Scam

If you receive an e-mail purportedly from HMRC, ask yourself one thing first – how likely is it that HMRC would contact you via e-mail, especially about a potential tax refund. E-mail can happen in some instances, but the general method of contact is by letter, even though much business is conducted online. In most instances this alone should be enough to raise warning flags about an online scam. HMRC itself says it would never advise people of tax rebates via e-mail, or ask users to fill out an online form to obtain a rebate. In some cases the scam will demand that you complete the online form within two days in order to claim the refund or it will be declined. HMRC would never add such a condition.

Secondly, the mail will close with “Regards” or in some cases "Yours Sincerely" think about that: Would a service like HMRC actually use that in a mail? No, of course they wouldn’t. That’s the second tip-off.

It’s also worth paying attention to the address from which the mail is sent. It might look like a proper HMRC address, but it’s not, it’s simply “spoofed” to appear legal. Much the same applies to the site containing the form – the URL (address) looks official, but it won’t be – there will be “online” before hmrc.gov.uk, for instance, and there may well not be the padlock (indicating a secure site) in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

So far the scam has largely tended to target charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs – the types of organisations who would be likely to receive refunds, but there’s evidence that it’s expanded to try and exploit individuals, too.

What to Do if You Receive an HMRC Online Scam Mail

Tempting as it is to think you have a tax refund, the advice HMRC offers for dealing with these scams is the best – ignore and delete the mail. Don’t use the link to visit the site in question and never give out your banking details online. In the middle of 2008 this has been the most-reported HMRC scam.

It’s true that their security has been notoriously bad, and the reputation of HMRC hasn’t been good. But to date the idea of applying for tax refunds online, where scams abound and security is often far from perfect, hasn’t become reality. As always, don’t believe what you read in an e-mail.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Sal
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Had a call today from a Indian lady saying I overpaid my sky bill by £202 she then asked my dob then requested the expiration date of my card I asked…
    7 September 2018
  • SimplyMe
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just received same call purporting to be from Sky Refund Department. When I said I had something to tell him (i.e. not a Sky customer) he hung…
    23 August 2018
  • Syed Ali
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    I received a call 9.30am the lady calling from 07125656364 said she is calling from sky from billing dept and want to refund overpaid amount to sky of…
    14 August 2018
  • Maggie
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    I’ve just had a phone call from07125656364 telling me she was from sky and saying that I had overpayed £202 and they want to refund me. She then asked…
    6 August 2018
  • SafeFromScams
    Re: Vishing Scam
    Jhey - Your Question:I received an email from Royal Mail saying that my fiancé belongings are arrived to london to receive the parcel they want me to s
    24 July 2018
  • Jhey
    Re: Vishing Scam
    I received an email from Royal Mail saying that my fiancé belongings are arrived to london to receive the parcel they want me to send £2150 via western…
    23 July 2018
  • Wmy
    Re: Vishing Scam
    AEAC0155408 has been used here in Nigeria to scam my sister. Please be careful.
    16 July 2018
  • WomenHelpingWomen
    Re: Scammed by a Holiday Romance?
    Hi, I work for a women's magazine weekly and we are trying to raise awareness during the time of travel so no more women fall as…
    5 July 2018
  • Le Tissier Pearson
    Re: Vishing Scam
    Scam messages can be a nuisance and the fraudsters can go to jail.
    22 June 2018
  • eggreig
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a lady could hardly understand her but she said I was due a refund but didn't believe her it was a mobile number 07158655859
    19 June 2018