How to Identify HMRC Scams: A Comprehensive Guide

Published in Business, Cybersecurity by Content Team
How to Identify HMRC Scams

Knowing how to identify HMRC scams is a really important skill those doing business in the UK must possess as scams are now commonplace in the rapidly changing digital world.

We’ve been having a challenge for the past few weeks getting hold of someone to speak to in the HMRC concerning an application made since February and in the quest for a phone number, ended up speaking with a scammer, which inspired this post.

Fraudsters pose as HMRC representatives to dupe people and companies into disclosing sensitive financial information or making unauthorised payments. They also try other methods to defraud people from menacing automated phone calls to sophisticated phishing emails.

It is critical for all businesses to recognise and prevent HMRC fraud. Financial loss and identity theft are only two catastrophic outcomes that might result from falling for these con artists. Beyond the immediate effects, though, they can also interfere with business operations and possibly harm your company’s reputation. You can defend your company, protect your money, and keep your client’s trust by becoming knowledgeable about HMRC frauds. The knowledge and resources in this manual are intended to help you accomplish that.

Understanding HMRC Scams

These scams are a type of fraud where scammers pretend to be from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in an attempt to trick you into paying them money or sharing sensitive information. They typically seek to instill fear by alleging that you owe taxes and would be subject to legal action or financial penalties if you don’t pay right away.
Scammers might reach you through a variety of avenues as they get more skilled. The most typical forms consist of:

Email Scams: These typically involve an email that falsely claims to be from HMRC and informs you that you are entitled a tax refund or that you owe money in taxes. They frequently contain links to phoney websites made with the intention of stealing your money and personal data.

Text Scams: Similar to email scams, these texts typically contain a link to a phoney website and make the claim that they are from HMRC. HMRC will never text you requesting personal or financial information.

Phone scams: In this instance, the con artists call you and pose as representatives of HMRC. To convey a sense of urgency, they frequently make threats or demand quick payment.

Social media scams: To reach potential victims, scammers may use social media sites. They might send you direct messages with links to phoney websites that request your personal or financial information.

Even though the exact numbers can change from year to year, HMRC frauds are a serious issue. In the fiscal year 2020–2021, HMRC reportedly received more than 846,000 reports of questionable HMRC contact, according to the UK government.

More than 496,000 of these were telephone frauds, and more than 350,000 were fake tax refunds. These numbers underscore the severity of the problem and the requirement for alertness and vigilance.

How to Identify HMRC Scams

Email scams

One of the most prevalent types of HMRC scams is the email scam. Here’s how to recognise them:

Examine the email address: Phishing emails could seem to originate from an HMRC email address. A deeper inspection, though, might spot petty irregularities, such typos or additional characters. If you hover over the email address of click on view headers in the email, at times you’d see that there is a different email disguised as a legitimate one.

Check the greeting: In scam emails, generic greetings like “Dear Customer” are frequently used because scammers ordinarily don’t know your name. This is only valid in cases where they haven’t stolen your data from elsewhere

Check spelling and grammar: Typos and grammatical problems are a warning sign because official HMRC communications are usually expertly edited.

Urgent or threatening language: If the email sounds urgent or threatens legal repercussions if no action is taken right away, it’s probably a fraud.

Personal information requests: HMRC will never email you asking for your financial or personal information. Such information is typically requested in scam emails.

Text/SMS scams

Smishing, often known as text scams, is another technique fraudsters use. Use these guidelines to identify them:

Unexpected texts: If you receive a text message from ‘HMRC’ without any prior arrangement, it’s certainly a fraud.

Requests for personal or financial information: Similar to email, HMRC would never send a text message requesting personal or financial information.

Questionable links: Any text message that includes a link to a website that requests personal or financial information is questionable.

Recognising fake HMRC calls.

Vishing, often known as phone scams, can be extremely frightening. How to spot them is as follows:

Threatening language: Scammers frequently employ intimidation techniques, warning you that failure to take urgent action could result in legal action, arrest, or other severe consequences.

Demands for urgent payment: HMRC will never call you and demand immediate payment, particularly in particular forms like gift cards or bitcoin.

Requesting personal information: Scam calls frequently demand financial or personal information. Keep in mind that HMRC would never telephonically request sensitive information.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Targeted by an HMRC Scam

If you suspect you’re a victim of a scam,

  1. Do not engage further: If you receive an email, text, or call you suspect is a scam, do not respond or provide any information.
  2. Do not click on any links: Scam emails and texts may contain links leading to fake websites designed to capture your personal and financial information.
  3. Contact HMRC directly: If you’re unsure about a communication, contact HMRC directly using the contact information provided on the official HMRC website.

How and where to report HMRC scams

If you believe you’ve been targeted by an HMRC scam, it’s crucial to report it to the appropriate authorities:

  1. Report phishing attempts: If you receive a suspicious email or text message, forward it to HMRC’s phishing team at 60599 via SMS (you’d be charged at network rates) or email If the message was sent via an application like Whatsapp, screenshot it and send to the same email
  2. Report scam phone calls: If you receive a suspicious phone call, report the details to HMRC online or through email at and to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
  3. Report scam letters: If you receive a scam letter, before responding, contact the HMRC team it says it is from via their website. For Instance if it is for VAT, visit the link and search for their VAT contact.

Guidance on recovering if you’ve been scammed

  1. Contact your bank: If you’ve lost money or shared your bank details in response to a scam, contact your bank immediately. They can provide guidance on the next steps and may be able to help recover lost funds.
  2. Reset your passwords: If you’ve shared any passwords, change them immediately.
  3. Seek support: Reach out to organizations like Action Fraud and Citizen’s Advice for further help and guidance.

Tips to Stay Safe from HMRC Scams

Best practices for email, text, and call safety

  1. Double-check email senders: Scammers often use email addresses that look official at first glance. Always verify the sender’s email address. Remember, official HMRC emails will always end in ‘’.
  2. Avoid clicking links in unexpected texts or emails: Scammers use these links to collect your personal information or infect your device with malware. If you need to access your HMRC account, type the official URL into your browser.
  3. Don’t be pressured into giving information: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to make you slip up. Genuine organisations, like HMRC, will give you the time to verify their identity.

Regularly updating security software

  1. Keep software updated: Regularly update your devices’ operating systems and applications, as updates often contain vital security patches.
  2. Use anti-virus software: Install and regularly update antivirus software to protect your devices from malware.

The importance of educating employees and raising awareness

  1. Conduct regular training: Make sure your employees know how to identify and respond to scams. This includes training on not giving out sensitive information and not clicking on suspicious links.
  2. Keep abreast of the latest scams: Scammers are always innovating. Stay informed about the latest tactics and inform your team about them.
  3. Promote a culture of caution: Encourage your team to be vigilant and to report anything they find suspicious. A culture that rewards caution can be your best defense against scams.

HMRC scams pose a significant threat to businesses and individuals alike. Suspicious emails, texts, and phone calls are just a few of the different ways that these scams can be perpetrated. Always be on the lookout for warning indications of scammers, such as sudden communication, personal information requests, and a sense of urgency.

It’s imperative to keep an eye out for potential scams and to be on guard. The greatest defence against such risks is to educate yourself and your staff on how to identify HMRC scams in their different forms. Don’t forget that keeping your security software up to date and encouraging a culture of vigilance will greatly lessen your susceptibility to scammers.

Stay cautious, and be sure to tell your team, your coworkers, and any other small business owners you know about this information. We can all contribute to the fight against these sinister actions and the protection of our businesses by raising awareness and understanding how to identify HMRC scams. We invite you to spread the word about this resource and join us in the battle against fraud if you found it helpful.

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