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Don’t fall foul to the scams


Now that the January tax return deadline has passed then a very quick reminder that any tax due in respect of the last fiscal year must be paid by 28th February to avoid a 5% surcharge.

It is also time to remind you that, however bad you feel when you pay your tax, you will feel infinitely worse if you fall foul of a scam, and rest assured that scams are getting more and more frequent.  In one week recently one client posted on facebook about being approached within days of another client contacting us for advice.  Our own staff have also been approached!

There are a number of tell-tale features that apply to most or all of them:

  1. Firstly, and most obviously, they will either ask you to provide personal details or to make some form of untraceable payment, such as with i-tune vouchers. The tax office have stated that they will never ask for personal details by email, and will certainly never accept payment of a tax liability with i-tune vouchers.  Heck! They won’t even accept payment by credit card after 13th January!
  2. Secondly, they will often be addressed impersonally, such as “Dear Taxpayer”, or addressed to your email address.
  3. Thirdly, the web address from which they originate will not be a genuine UK government website. If you hover your cursor above the address showing in the email then the real address will be shown.
  4. Fourthly, HMRC do no issue arrest warrants, or contact the police, in respect of tax liabilities.

The government has published guidance on how to spot scams and avoid being taken in.  This guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples#bogus-phone-calls.

HMRC’s advice is to never give out personal information in response to an approach purporting to be from them, nor to open any attachments contained in an email.  If you have any doubts then you should forward the email to HMRC for verification to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Of course, scam HMRC emails are just the tip of the iceberg.  The Nigerian unclaimed estate, or the large foreign lottery win are other examples.  Just remember, if you are not in it you cannot win it, and if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.

As Kojak used to say “Let’s be careful out there!”

WatkinsonBlack have considerable experience in all areas of taxation and business services, including providing a very cost-effective payroll bureau service.  If you want to arrange a no-obligation initial meeting on any taxation or accounting matter then please contact us.  Please note that these ideas are intended to inform rather than advise and you should always obtain professional advice before taking any action.



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