It might sound a like a dodgy title itself, but it really is Scams Awareness Month. Citizens Advice and Trading Standards have teamed up and designated June as a month to bring lots of scams to our attention.

GDPR may have momentarily removed me from that Nigerian princess’s email list, but we’re all inundated with emails and it can be easy to read a dodgy email from what appears to be a reliable source (such as HMRC or Companies House) and take it at face value.

And there’s been a big increase recently in spam emails claiming to be from HMRC or Companies House…..and then robbing you of thousands of pounds.

Companies House last week issued a warning on a new mail coming from “complaints@companies-house-gov.uk” or “noreply@cpgov.uk” with the following message:

If you do get it, don’t reply or click the link!!

Many of the common ones promise you a tax rebate. They then ask for your details, for example prompting you to open a Government Gateway account, and use them to empty your bank account.

These used to be easy to spot – they might be from “HRMC” or riddled with spelling errors – but these days some of the emails look like they’ve come from a genuine HMRC address ending in the correct “hmrc.gov.uk”.

How do you spot them?

At its simplest, HMRC never (never, never) ask for your personal details in an email. They may send reminders or info, but never ask for your details or provide a link to a log-in screen.

A genuine email from HMRC may ask you to log-in to your online tax account to view your message, but will not provide a link in the email. They’ll expect you to go to HMRC’s website yourself.

HMRC state on their website that their emails will never:

  • 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
  • have attachments, unless you’ve given prior consent and you’ve formally accepted the risks
  • provide a link to a secure log-in page or a form asking for information – instead we will ask you to log on to your online account to check for information

What other emails do you need to look out for?

Another common scam email at the moment is claiming to be from the Insolvency Service and titled “Company Investigations Inquiry Notification”. A few of our clients have received these in the past month. They do look pretty convincing but, again, are a fraud so don’t click on the link.

We’ve also seen a few emails from Greater Manchester Police with a Notice of Intended Prosecution for speeding, with a link to “Check the Photographic Proof” or to “Check Speeding Camera Data”. Again, they’re a scam.

So, keep an eye out for these emails and never give out your details. If in doubt, contact HMRC by phone or email them – they have a specialist team at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

 

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Any questions?

If you’d like a meeting or a Skype call to discuss this, please get in touch with your favourite Liverpool accountant