Have you spotted an email from HMRC in your inbox recently? Does it look as though something is wrong? Unsure on how to spot a HRC scam email? You’re not alone. The amount of scam emails sent to members of the public from “HMRC” is rapidly on the rise, with hundreds of people a month falling victim to the money making operation. Below we have compiled a guide on how to avoid scam HMRC emails, for if you are unsure if an email you have receieved is a money making scam.
These emails claim to be from HMRC, explaining that the recipient is due a tax refund from the government agency. In this email, recipients are then asked to click a link which will supposedly take them to the HMRC website. In fact, hopeful claimants will be redirected to another website which looks very similar to HMRC. Here, users will be asked a number of questions regarding their personal information.
Recipients of the email will then be asked for their address, card details, information from their driving license, or their National Insurance number. Giving these details away is very dangerous, as it will be easy to steal your identity. If you think you have fallen victim to a HMRC scam email, ring the police immediately and explain your situation. If you have received an email claiming to be from HMRC, but are unsure on what to do, we advise deleting the email right away – or add it to your junk folder. Doing this ensure future emails will head straight to your junk inbox. You can also forward your scam email to firstname.lastname@example.org, where a member of staff will look into the situation for you. Below is an example of a scam HMRC email:
The use of the HMRC logo is illegal, however may assure some people that the email is legitimate. This will then encourage them to click the link and enter their details. These emails definitely prey on the vulnerable, and may be sent to older individuals who will not know how to spot a fake email. We advise telling older or more vulnerable family members about this issue, in case they fall victim to this HMRC scam.
The amount of scam emails have reached such a level that HMRC have issued a statement on the issue. In their statement, they issued an apology to anyone who has fallen victim to these emails, and are working to ensure this stops as soon as possible. They are also investigating different cases in order to chase money transactions and where the money is going to. HMRC have also stated that they do not, in any case, send emails or texts to members of the public informing them of tax refunds.
The UK public are also seeing a rise in scam emails from other companies. Apple is also a recent victim of the criminal activity, with groups issuing “receipts” of purchases from the company. These receipts are usually low in price in order to not raise suspision, but to inform customers that their details have been used to purchase items. Customers will then click on “My Account” and be asked to enter a few details about themselves and their account in order to “prove” that it is them. The use of the apple logo, along with the same layout as a normal apple receipt, would cause concern for anyone. Clicking the link and following the instructions may not seem like much to put your mind at rest, but doing so can put your identity and even your card details at risk from fraud.
How to spot a HMRC scam email
Before clicking a link in any email – ask yourself:
Do I know the sender – Is the email address which sent you the email look legitimate? Or is it a mix of letters and numbers? A legitimate email address will usually be short, and have a .com. Many scam email addresses are made in bulk, and may consist of a number of letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols.
Does the logo look legitimate – Sometimes scam emails will use the logo of the company they are claiming to be. However, the are usually skewed and out of focus.
Is any content blocked on this email – You will usually see a notification if any content has been blocked by your email provider. Blocked content may usually mean that it has been flagged as spam or harmful material
If you are still unsure on if the email you have receieved is real. We advise not clicking the link. It is better to be safe than sorry. You can always log into your apple account and check you past orders, or ring HMRC directly to see if you are due a refund. If you believe that you have fallen for a scam email from the HMRC, ring the police immediately and talk to them about the situation. From there they will investigate your case and try to retrieve your money.