It is HMRC or is it a Scam?

We often receive enquiries from individuals who have received calls stating a warrant is issued for their arrest as a result of sums due to HMRC being outstanding and they need to make an urgent payment to prevent this.  There are also some very good fake emails and fake formal letters that purport to be from HMRC circulating in relation to repaying Covid funds or deferred VAT.  Some of the emails and letters are very convincing.

HMRC recently updated their guidance to help people spot suspicious emails, phone calls, texts and letters. It outlines the various ways HMRC could contact you – and the types of information they will ask for. We have complied this list to help people identify any scams.

How will HMRC contact me?

HMRC contacts people via the phone, text message, letter and email. Often, it uses more than one way to get in touch. For example, HMRC may contact you with a letter first, after which it will follow up with an email. This provides an extra level of security. If you receive an automated voicemail saying a warrant is out for your arrest, this is unlikely to be HMRC.

HMRC text message number

It is also worth noting that HMRC is using a new number to send text messages. This may be different to one you have received a text from in the past. However, HMRC will not ask for any personal or financial details in a text message. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident that it is a scam.

HMRC communication methods

HMRC tailors their communication methods to the type of enquiry. If HMRC is contacting you about:

National Minimum Wage and employment – HMRC will contact you by letter, phone or email. HMRC will never ask for personal financial information such as bank details without writing to you first. To check that this contact is genuine, you should:

  • Have a copy of the letter or email you have received from National Minimum Wage to hand
  • Call 03000 557 755
  • Tell HMRC the details of the person who called you from National Minimum Wage, if you were previously contacted by phone

National Minimum Wage common errors – HMRC will contact you by email or letter. To check this contact is genuine, you should:

  • Have a copy of the letter or email you have received about National Minimum Wage to hand
  • Call 03000 557 755

Overseas businesses that sell digital services to UK consumers – HMRC will contact you by email and letter. HMRC will not ask for any personal, business or financial information.

Statutory notices requesting information – HMRC will contact you by phone, letter or email.

VAT register inactivity – HMRC will contact you by phone or email. HMRC will not ask for personal or financial information. You will only be asked whether you still need to be VAT registered, and to provide some basic information on where you are trading.

Logging into your HMRC tax account – HMRC will contact you by text message or automated voice call when you log into your HMRC tax account. This is part of the new multi-factor authentication system, which replaces 2-step verification. HMRC will send a one-time access code by text message or voice call to your chosen mobile phone or landline number. You will never be asked for personal or financial information.

Research and surveys – HMRC may contact you by letter, phone or email while conducting research and surveys. HMRC frequently works with independent research agencies such as Kantar, Yonder, IFF and Ipsos Mori to help improve their service and influence future policy. One example is the large business customer experience survey which takes place every year. Participation is entirely voluntary. If you do take part, your answers will be confidential.

What to do if you receive a scam email, call or text

If you receive communication from someone purporting to be HMRC and you think it is suspicious, you can report it on the gov.uk website. HMRC may share your email address and phone number with other organisations to close down the scam.

What if I’m not sure?

If you are not sure whether the communication is a scam or not, you can cross-reference it with this list of genuine HMRC contacts. This describes the emails, phone calls, letters and text messages recently issued by HMRC.

HMRC will never ask for your bank account details or personal information. Also, HMRC will never contact you about a tax rebate, refund or ask for personal/payment information via email or text. If you receive an email promising you a tax rebate, then it is likely a scam. You should contact HMRC to check whether it is genuine by calling 03000 557 755.

Other tell-tale signs of a scam include:

  • Threatening language
  • Being contacted out of the blue
  • Being asked to share personal details
  • Spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Mistakes in your address or personal information

Need help with an HMRC investigation?

If you would like to have a free confidential discussion with a member of our team, please either make a Free Request For Call Back or call us directly on 01908 414990 and we will be pleased to help you.