8th December 2016
Fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC have added threatening phone calls to their usual email and text scam methods.
There have been a number of recent reports of attempted frauds starting with a telephone call in which someone claims to be from HMRC, chasing outstanding payment. They then threaten legal action unless money is immediately transferred.
Another scam involves a recorded message, again claiming to be from HMRC, saying legal action is being taken against the intended victim, who is told to call an 0161 number to speak to the officer dealing with the case. Fraudsters then attempt to extract money from those who do call.
Accountants also need to be aware of how they can unwittingly be used in sophisticated cons that target their clients. In yet another ruse, a fraudster pretending claiming to be an HMRC money laundering investigator calls an accountant to say they are following up on a letter - which never materialised - regarding a money laundering report on one of their clients. The fraudster then contacts the client claiming to be from their bank, saying HMRC wants to see three years' bank statements. The client calls their accountant who confirms that they have received a call from HMRC, thus giving credibility to the request for bank statements. The fraudster then tries to trick the victim into granting access to their bank account.
Wise & Co IT Manager Will Yates said: 'Genuine callers will never ask for security information such as log-in details and passwords. They will also not pressurise or threaten you to divulge information. If you are at all suspicious, ask for the caller's credentials and call back on a number you know to be genuine rather than one they have just given you. If the caller is genuine they will never object to you taking precautions over security.'
HMRC has published guidance on how to distinguish between bogus contact attempts, including so-called 'phishing' email scams, which can be found on the GOV.UK website. The advice includes reporting such calls to Action Fraud by calling the hotline on 0300 123 2040 or visiting the website at www.actionfraud.org.uk.