Fraudsters are sending emails and texts pretending to be from the government. These emails and texts are designed to get you to click on a fake government website link or trick you into revealing sensitive information.
They can be emails from scammers telling customers they can claim a tax refund or a phone call that claims HMRC is filing a law suit against you.
These scam messages can look and sound very convincing, so here's how to spot an HMRC tax scam.
How to spot an HMRC scam by email or text
First of all, HMRC will never contact you by email or text about a tax rebate or refund. They'll only ever contact you by sending you a letter in the post about this.
But often these HMRC scam emails can look real because the fraudsters will sometimes include official style logos and references. Here's how to recognise if they're a scam:
HMRC scam emails can often start with a generic greeting like: Dear sir, Dear Madam or Dear customer. Legitimate emails will use your name.
The english in the email or text might be worded strangely and there might be a few spelling mistakes. This is often a giveaway!
The email address might appear genuine, ending in hmrc.gov.uk. But don't forget, HMRC never contacts customers who might be due a refund by email or text.
The message might encourage you to click a link and log into an account, often claiming that your account has been locked or there is a large transfer of money.
The email might also contain an attachment, which could be a computer virus. Never open attachments if you aren't sure who sent the email.
HMRC will only ever contact you about tax refunds or rebates by sending you a letter in the post!
What an HMRC scam email can look like
If you get something like this, don't reply to the email and do not open any links in the message.
What an HMRC text scam can look like
If you've got a text like this, don't reply to it or call the phone number listed and don't click on any links.
You can find more examples of these scam texts and emails on the government site here.
How to spot an HMRC tax scam by phone
HMRC are aware of an automated phone call scam, claiming to be from HMRC. If you receive one of these calls, here's how to tell it's a scam:
The automated phone call claims that HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you. You'll be asked to press one to speak to a caseworker to make a payment.
If you get a call like this, this is a scam and you should end the call.
The phone call might offer you a tax refund and ask you to give your bank details and personal information.
This is also a scam! You should never give your bank details or personal information to anyone asking over the phone.
If you get one of these calls, contact HMRC directly to ask them if the email or phone call is legitimate by emailing email@example.com.
If you get an email or phone call like this, send it to HMRC for investigating
You can forward any suspicious emails to HMRC at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are worried you've fallen victim to an HMRC phone or email scam, contact your bank as soon as possible to let them know.
As a general rule, make sure you never click on links contained in suspicious emails or download any attachments. Also, make sure you report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, use the Action Fraud online reporting tool, or the FCA Scam Smart website.
You can read more about what HMRC scams look like on the government website here.