Following the government rolling out proposals aimed at assisting small businesses such as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the Job Retention Scheme and Small Business Rate Relief, fraudsters have been looking to take advantage of small businesses interested in utilising these schemes.
HMRC have highlighted a number of scams which they are aware have been doing the rounds such as email phishing campaigns telling customers they can claim a tax refund to help protect themselves from the outbreak. These include:
Tax refund and rebate scams
Fraudsters can spoof genuine email addresses and change the ‘display name’ to make it seem genuine. However, HMRC never sends notifications by email about tax rebates or refunds. If you are unsure about an email you have received, forward it to HMRC and then delete it.
If you receive a text message claiming to be from HMRC and offering a tax refund in exchange for financial or personal details, do not reply. HMRC never asks for personal or financial information when sending text messages. If you are unsure about a text message you have received, you can send it to 60599 (network charges apply) or email email@example.com then delete it.
Bogus phone calls
If you receive an automated phone call from HMRC asking you to press one to speak to a caseworker to make a payment, this is a scam and the phone call should be ended immediately. These phone calls use different numbers. If you received one of these calls, you should report full details of the scam by email and include the date of the call, the phone number used and the content of the call.
Whatsapp and social media scams
HMRC will never contact you via Whatsapp or any social media platform. From offering a tax rebate to asking for financial details, never share your personal information here and notify HMRC via email.
Certain companies are sending emails or texts advertising their services and offer to apply to HMRC for a tax rebate on your behalf. These companies are not connected with HMRC in any way and should not be interacted with.
Protect your business by staying vigilant when receiving anything from an unknown recipient. Treat any cold emails, SMS or any other type of messages with suspicion. If in doubt, do not open them or click on the links; try to find out if they are genuine and if they appear to be a scam, contact HMRC.