Unfortunately, phishing from people pretending to be HMRC is common. It comes in a variety of forms including letters and emails, and the latest scam is via voicemail.
Thankfully, these fraudsters have been reported so that you can become aware of it before you receive a suspicious call, and take action if necessary.
Awareness of the scam
There are two recordings that have been released to increase awareness of the scam. In the first, an automated male voice claims there is a warrant for your arrest, and that there is a legal case about to be filed on you. Now you’ve been alerted to this, they go on to say that you need to call HMRC on the number they have provided, before warning that you must not ignore them.
The second caller is a female, purporting to be ‘Officer Sarah Wilson’ from HMRC. She requests that you or your solicitor call her back, and threatens that there will be legal consequences if you don’t.
Responding to the scam
If you receive a suspicious voicemail like these, then it’s important to remain calm. The claims of ‘you need to act quickly’ and ‘there will be serious consequences’ are very common amongst phishing scams. They are designed to make many people feel extremely pressured, causing them to act as they would not normally.
Instead, see if you can validate who the caller actually is from the caller ID, but don’t call them back. Cross-reference their number (if available) with the number of HMRC. Just search on their official website, or see if you have any trusted correspondence from them, like a verified letter.
You should then give the official HMRC number a ring from another phone, explaining what’s happened. You’ll be able to find out whether it was a scam without falling victim to it.
Recognising the scam
Although becoming aware of this scam will stop it from impacting you, there could potentially be other fraudsters trying to access your information in the future. You can take steps to avoid this by ensuring you can recognise a scam.
The pressure put on you is one such sign. As we discussed with the fake HMRC letters, the official HMRC will seldom ever request you to pay at that moment in time.
Also, with any calls related to tax credits, HMRC will not reveal any of your details in a voicemail message. If you speak on the phone, be wary of the caller asking for your details as well – never disclose your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) or National Insurance number.
Be mindful, too, of when in the tax year you receive the communication. The most popular time for fraudsters to attempt scams is around important dates, such as the Self Assessment tax return deadline.
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