Fraudsters use messages or websites to imitate genuine businesses and agencies, hoping that you will reveal personal information. This practice is known as phishing.

Four tips to avoid phishing and scams

HM Revenue & Customs operates a dedicated protection team which investigates and closes down scams.

There are four key tips from HMRC which we can follow to avoid phishing attempts.

  1. Genuine organisations won’t contact you unexpectedly to ask for your bank details, PIN or password. Banks and organisations like HM Revenue & Customs will never ask for these details out of the blue.
  2. Stay safe when using devices. Don’t reply to text messages or give out private information. Also don’t open attachments or click on links in emails you’re not expecting. You can always go directly to the website or contact the organisation directly.
  3. Take action and forward the details of phishing attempts. For emails and calls you can forward these to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk. Text messages can be forwarded to 60599. Action Fraud can also be contacted on 0300 123 2040.
  4. Learn how to avoid and report scams. Go to the HMRC website to read about scams, phishing and see how to report scams.

Text messages and phone calls which offer tax refunds are designed to capture bank details on a false page. Fraudsters may also threaten someone with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately. HMRC will only ask for payment on a debt which someone is already aware of.

Reporting phishing attempts and frauds

If you receive a bogus email, text message or call you can report it to HMRC by emailing phishing@hmrc.gov.uk. Suspicious messages from other organisations can be reported to Action Fraud.

Reports of phishing attempts are investigated by a team at HMRC. Last year HM Revenue & Customs reported over 12,000 malicious websites to be taken down. More than a third of these were reported before they reached the public. HMRC has also initiated the removal of more than 1,000 phone numbers which were being used to perpetrate phone scams.

If you or someone you know has suffered a financial loss it can also be reported to HMRC and Action Fraud. It’s also essential to contact your bank so that they can take steps to protect other monies in bank accounts.

More information and links

Phishing and scams: information on the HM Revenue & Customs website

Examples of phishing emails: Samples of fake emails and text messages relating to HMRC

Action Fraud: Report and prevent frauds