Stay Alert! Have you seen some of the latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) scams?

Credit to: Jones Harris

Please take time to look at all the different ways you could so easily be caught out. They are all very convincing. To help with investigations please report all HMRC related phishing emails and bogus text messages. Even if you get the same or similar phishing email or text message often, email it to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and then delete it.

Do not open attachments or click any links in an email or text message, as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a bogus website.

Email scams

HMRC is aware of a phishing campaign telling customers they can claim a tax refund to help protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak. Do not reply to the email and do not open any links in the message. The email has been issued in various formats. An example of this scam is below:

SMS scams

‘Goodwill payment’ SMS

HMRC is aware of coronavirus SMS scams telling customers they can claim a ‘goodwill payment’. Do not reply to the SMS and do not open any links in the message. This is an example of the scam wording:

‘As Part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19v irus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment. Follow link to apply.’

‘£250 fine’ SMS

HMRC is aware of a SMS scam which states you will be fined £250 for leaving the house more than once. The message asks recipients to call an 0800 telephone number to appeal. Do not reply to the SMS or call the phone number listed. Here is a scam example:

Tax refund and rebate scams

Email addresses

HMRC will never send notifications by email about tax rebates or refunds. Do not:

  • visit the website
  • open any attachments
  • disclose any personal or payment information

Fraudsters may spoof a genuine email address or change the ‘display name’ to make it appear genuine. If you are unsure, forward it to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and then delete it. Example of a phishing email and bogus website:

An example of a phishing website designed to trick you into disclosing personal information is below:

 

Text messages

HMRC will never ask for personal or financial information when they send text messages. Do not reply if you get a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details. Do not open any links in the message. Send any phishing text messages to 60599 (network charges apply) or email phishing@hmrc.gov.uk then delete it. An example of a phishing text message is below:

Bogus phone calls

HMRC is aware of an automated phone call scam which will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you, and to press one to speak to a caseworker to make a payment. We can confirm this is a scam and you should end the call immediately. This scam has been widely reported and often targets elderly and vulnerable people. Other scam calls may offer a tax refund and request you to provide your bank or credit card information. If you cannot verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them.

If you’ve been a victim of the scam and suffered financial loss, report it to Action Fraud.

The calls use a variety of phone numbers. To help our investigations you should report full details of the scam by email to: phishing@hmrc.gov.uk, including the:

  • date of the call
  • phone number used
  • content of the call

WhatsApp messages

HMRC will never use ‘WhatsApp’ to contact customers about a tax refund. If you receive any communication through ‘WhatsApp’ saying it’s from HMRC, it is a scam. Email details of the message to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk then delete it.

Social media scams

HMRC is aware of direct messages sent to customers through social media. A recent scam was identified on Twitter offering a tax refund. These messages are not from genuine HMRC social media accounts and are a scam. They never use social media to:

  • offer a tax rebate
  • request personal or financial information

If you cannot verify the identity of the social media account, send the details by email to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and ignore it.