Sadly, telephone scamming is a growing problem in the UK. Many people every year fall foul of fraudsters pretending to be from reputable companies in order to obtain bank details or personal information.
There has been a deluge of diverse scams over the past few years, from the windows and Microsoft technical department scam to the BT disconnecting and telephone lottery scam. Whilst all different, they all have one common objective: to take your money.
Unfortunately, these tricksters are good at what they do and they can be extremely convincing.
Often, the scammer will employ a ‘rush and push’ technique, aiming to install a sense of urgency in the call and provide little time to think. And panic makes many people act irrationally.
This is just what’s happening with the present HMRC scam.
Taxpayers and accountants alike are currently being targeted by tricksters, who use threats and intimidation in their phone calls and text messages when claiming to be calling from HMRC and collecting fake debts.
The scam claims an outstanding tax debt and demands immediate payment or risk of arrest. Obviously, this installs fear, which is just what the deceiver desires.
As with many other telephone scams, these fraudsters are able to make it appear they are calling you from a real HMRC call centre. This makes the call appear more credible and often convinces people to dismiss their reservations.
The HMRC scam aims to obtain debit or credit card details — or amazingly gift card vouchers from Argos or iTunes! In many of these cases the caller claims her name is Heather Grey from HMRC.
If you are newly self-employed and have no experience of dealing directly with HMRC, please be vigilant and don’t be duped.
Some points to remember in order to avoid being the victim of a scam:
- Never trust the phone number that appears on your telephone, as it can easily be hoaxed.
- Never give your account details to an unknown caller over the phone.
- HMRC will never ask for payment via text message.
- Never be rushed into committing to anything over the telephone.
- Don’t entertain a pushy telephone caller out of politeness — never be afraid to hang up!
If you’ve been the victim of a telephone scam or any kind of fraud, report it immediately to the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, Action Fraud.
As a client at Thursfields, you can always refer HMRC (real or fake) to Jennifer, our tax specialist, who will establish if there is a debt and can help to put a payment plan in place if there is. Get in touch today on 01782 594958, to see how we can help.