Before we begin this post, we want to outline the rule of thumb whenever you get a call or email that you are suspicious of. No authentic organisation would object to you speaking to your accountant before transferring any money or even having a conversation with them. So, if you are contacted by someone that you suspect could be a scammer, tell them to hold for a few minutes while you contact us to check. We are always pleased when a client contacts us to verify a phone call or email and will not charge anything for this service.
Scam emails are a serious threat nowadays. We receive over 400,000 phishing emails per year. These emails are consequently becoming more and more sophisticated and can be easy to mistake for genuine correspondence.
Warning signs of a Phishing email:
1.The email address is unofficial and includes lots of random letters and numbers.
Scammers use generic email addresses that are often very similar to the official email address of the authority they are impersonating. However, they often include random letters or numbers, making them different from the genuine address.
2. They do not address it to you.
Emails from scammers are often addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear Customer”. Therefore, a generic greeting is often a sign of a fraudulent email.
3. The email contains spelling / grammar mistakes.
Although it is often thought that this is because the scammers make mistakes, this is sometimes a technique used to target less observational people. The scammers think that if you don’t notice their spelling mistakes, you are less likely to notice that it is a scam.
4. HMRC and other authorities will not request sensitive information via email.
Most companies will not ask you via email to confirm passwords, credit card details, bank information etc. HMRC will certainly never send emails regarding tax rebates or refunds.
5. There is a sense of urgency.
Scammers put pressure on their victims that if they do not provide them with information quickly there will be serious consequences. Therefore, it is always best to take a step back and not rush to respond.
If you are ever unsure if an email from HMRC is legitimate you can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it.
Many scammers will impersonate authoritative figures in order to put pressure on their victims to part with their money or details. HMRC are often used by scammers in this way.
One common phone call scam is for scammers to tell you that HMRC are filing a lawsuit against you and that you must press ‘1’ to speak to a caseworker to make a payment. This is a recognised scam, as are phone calls offering you tax refunds provided you can provide them with your bank details.
Again, you can report any suspicious phone calls to the email address above with the date of the call, phone number used and the content of the call.
We are always happy to offer advice if you are worried about phishing emails / phone calls. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.