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27 March 2020

Beware of the scammers trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis by masquerading as HMRC

In these extraordinary and challenging times it is reassuring to see that they bring out the very best in society, with hundreds of thousands in the UK rapidly signing up to become an NHS volunteer responder, answering the call to assist the NHS, and people actively looking to help vulnerable neighbours where they can.

Sadly however it is also a time when the worst elements of society both in the UK and elsewhere seek to take advantage of people’s anxieties and concerns: the scammers, who have already changed their tactics to create COVID-19 related phishing scams.

Scammers have long used the lure of refunds from HMRC or the threat of prosecution for unpaid tax as a means to get bank details and other information from unwary individuals. A phishing campaign has already started telling people they can get a tax refund to protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak. In light of the government’s package of financial measures to help businesses and employees, it is certain that more scams will be developed.

These scams can be very clever and well organised and even the most financially savvy of us can fall prey to them in our ordinary day-to-day dealings with emails, texts and phone calls. Now with all the added pressures many are facing, juggling working from home, perhaps also looking after children or concerns for elderly relatives, in addition to the wider implications of day-to-day living at the moment and what the future may hold, it is all too easy to react too swiftly on receipt of one of these scams.

HMRC provide information on the gov.uk website about the sorts of phishing scams that are in circulation.

It is key to note that HMRC will not use email or texts regarding tax rebates or refunds nor will they ask for personal or financial information in such formats. Some scams involving HMRC have become very sophisticated, using personal mobiles and addresses (both current and old) which can make it difficult to spot, at first worrying glance, that it is indeed a fraud.

Now is the time to be additionally vigilant against the scammers whether it is a tax related scam or some other way to extract valuable personal data or funds. These scam communications are designed to spur people on to act quickly, but taking just a few moments to really consider the message and who it is actually from may save a huge amount of distress.

Please contact Paul Gallagher or your usual BDB Pitmans contact if you have concerns about your personal tax affairs at this current time.

 

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