A client recently called me to say they were very worried
because they had received a telephone call from someone purporting to be from
HMRC. The telephone call was an automated message to say they were under
investigation for tax fraud and if they did not pay the tax, a warrant for
their arrest would be issued. Unfortunately this is becoming more common and
often targets elderly and vulnerable people. I had also received a phone call
recently from scammers claiming to be from HMRC. During this phone call, I
asked the caller to confirm my unique tax reference (UTR) and the caller
immediately ended the call.
Fortunately in my client’s case they ended the phone call
and immediately contacted me. I assured them that they were not under HMRC
investigation for tax fraud and that the phone call was an attempt by scammers
to obtain their bank details so that they could commit a fraud, probably to
obtain funds from their account or as part of an identity fraud.
My client was very relieved and admitted they thought it was
very strange to receive the phone call when they use Crowe as their tax
advisors. I explained that if they were under investigation for tax fraud, HMRC
would never inform a taxpayer of this by a phone call.
HMRC have clear procedures to follow in accordance with the
law. Normally this would be initially by opening an enquiry into a tax return
within the normal time limits in writing. This enquiry notice would be sent
directly to the taxpayer and also to their tax agent.
Most phone calls made by HMRC to taxpayers are usually made to
discuss payment arrangements if taxpayers are late on their tax payments. HMRC
generally calls from a 0300 number but now encourages taxpayers to do most
Taxpayers will never get emails, text messages (including
WhatsApp messages) or phone calls from HMRC telling them about a tax refund or
penalty or ask for personal or payment information. If a taxpayer does receive
an email or text message they should not visit the website, open any
attachments or disclose any personal or payment information. Fraudsters are becoming
more sophisticated and are quite capable of spoofing a genuine HMRC email
address to make it look genuine.
If you have recently been contacted and think that it may
have been a scam, speak to your tax agent or report to HMRC’s phishing team
directly at email@example.com.