This month, HMRC is due to send 650,000 tax return reminders by email to taxpayers, following the recent launch of HMRC’s digital Self Assessment service. On the other hand, unscrupulous individuals are targeting taxpayers by mass-emailing bogus notices claiming to come from HMRC. So how do you distinguish between genuine communications from HMRC and phishing scams?
How to differentiate between HMRC's genuine emails and scams
HMRC published a ‘Three-Point Protocol’ to help taxpayers differentiate between genuine emails and those sent by scammers.
First, HMRC emails will only contain generic reminders (like “”File your tax return and pay your bill by 31 January”) or notifications about a key change or event (for example if you have made a payment or your tax code has changed).
Secondly, HMRC will NEVER include financial information like details or amounts of outstanding payment or refunds. They will never include active links related to a customer’s account, log-on pages or electronic forms or active links outside HMRC or GOV.UK.
Thirdly, HMRC’s emails will always display the department’s logo and the customer’s full name, as held on their database. Also, it is worth pointing out that HMRC’s emails are not a two-way service as genuine HMRC reminders do not allow a response. However, 2-way communication is something currently being developed for future use.
Very often, scammers’ emails will promise a tax refund or acknowledge a payment of some sort. In some cases, these bogus emails are quite convincing and even display HMRC’s logo. However, a tell-tale sign that they are a scam is that they will contain attachments or ask you for personal details. Whatever you do, please do NOT open any of the attachments as they may contain harmful files, malware, Trojan and all other nasty viruses… Don’t fall victim to scammers, these bogus emails are what we call a “phishing scam”, designed to capture your personal data in order to steal money from you.HMRC takes the online security of taxpayers very seriously. Says Jonathan Lloyd White, HMRC’s Director of Security and Information, “While we want customers to transact with us online, we also want to keep their confidential information safe and secure. So we’ve developed this simple protocol to help our customers avoid being caught out by scam emails.
TaxRefundPro will never email people who are not clients or have never used our services. Unless you specifically retained our services, we will never make the promise that you are due a tax refund, either. Online security is a priority and we will never pass on clients’ personal info to any third party, that’s a promise. Sometimes, we may email clients who agree to receive that service with updates on their individual case; in that instance our emails will always bear our company logo, telephone number and the name of the consultant who is dealing with your case.
Need help with completing your 2013/14 tax return? TaxRefundPro offers a competitive tax return service! Put your mind at rest and call one of our experienced consultants for a free confidential assessment of your case on 0203 137 5773.