Protecting yourself against fraudsters
There was a recent BBC article about an increase in reports to HMRC of fraudulent calls, where the scammer on the other end of the phone claims to be calling from HM Revenue and Revenue and Customs.
With banking systems becoming more secure and robust, it appears scammers are focussing their attention on conning members of the public, and businesses, directly.
Beware of a scammer in HMRC clothing
We’ve had this happen to of two our personal tax customers recently. One of those clients was particularly shaken by the phone call, as the call was made quite early in the morning and the scammer was very forceful. In this instance the individual was told by the person on the phone that they owed an amount of Personal Tax for prior years and that as they had ignored various letters about the tax outstanding they were now facing legal action unless they paid the outstanding tax by the end of the day.
In actual fact our client had no tax outstanding, and hadn’t been ignoring letters, as none had been sent by HMRC.
The scammer then went on to say that the individual could pay the outstanding tax liability with Google play vouchers, that they could buy from their nearest supermarket, and if they couldn’t get the vouchers by midday they could face fines of up to £46,000 and be taken to Court.
Fortunately our client had a family member there to take over the call and advise the scammer that they would be reported to the Police.
There was a further BBC article last week which reports that scams involving individuals transferring funds out of their own account into fraudsters bank accounts rose by 45% in the second half of last year. The amount being transferred rising to £135m in the 6 months to December 2018.
These scams are not only targeting individuals but businesses to, and a reported £74m worth of suspicious business transfers was made.
The problem with most of the cases where amounts are transferred directly to the scammers – known as an authorised push payment (APP) scam, is that banks are less likely to reimburse the victim, as they authorised the transaction. There is a new voluntary code published by the APP Scams Steering Group, which comes into effect on 28 May this year, which is designed to give better protection to customers.
Customers will have to have ensured they’ve taken reasonable care, but it they did then they will be more likely to be reimbursed (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47409530)
What to do if you receive something suspicious
With the introduction of technology there are many more ways for scammers to try to fraudulently get your money. If you receive any requests for personal or financial information it’s always best to take a minute to consider whether the request is genuine.
If you receive any e-mails of text messages claiming to be from your bank or other trusted organisation that you aren’t expecting it’s best to contact them directly regarding the message received. You can forward suspicious HMRC texts to 60599, which is HMRC’s phishing team.
If you receive a call from a suspected fraudster never give any personal or financial information over the phone. If you can make a note of the number the scammer is calling on this can be provided to HMRC and the police. Report the call to the police, and you can e-mail HMRC’s phishing team at firstname.lastname@example.org
If the caller claims to be from HMRC and you have an accountant, you can call your accountant who will be able to advise if you have any outstanding liabilities.
You can find lots more information about helping to protect yourself from fraud at www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk