HMRC scam’s – what to look out for and what to do if you receive one

Date posted: 18th Jul 2022

We have recently become aware of an increase in attempted phishing communications from our clients, which is a worrying trend.

These scams can come in a number of forms, whether it be a simple text message or a detailed letter. Unfortunately, they are becoming more advanced and harder to detect. These communications are often purporting to be HMRC, demanding direct payments or trying to access details that can be used maliciously.

In an ever-increasing digital age, companies and individuals alike are becoming more vulnerable.

An example of a scam attempt in real life.

Notably, one of our clients recently received a scam letter ‘from HMRC’ intended to encourage them to pay back a PAYE settlement. The figure in question was around £800 which is a fairly common sum. This is a clever tactic employed by scam artists to use ‘standard’ amounts to appear even more legitimate.

The letter in question was very convincing and detailed, featuring a breakdown of fees alongside several identification numbers and codes.

Luckily, the client was suspicious enough to contact us to check the validity of the letter they received. This saved the day as we quickly identified it as a scam.

So, what should you do if you receive a communication of this kind?

Firstly, HMRC has published a useful guide on how to recognise and report scams which you can read that here:

Also, if you receive a communication such as an email or letter, please consider the following;

  • Were you expecting this contact? If you are already aware that you owe some tax, for example, then you may expect a communication regarding this matter.
  • Check against your HMRC PAYE gateway account as HMRC will notify this account if you have any outstanding payments. This is probably the safest method to use as a check.
  • Check the style of the letter. Are there spelling mistakes? Is the grammar incorrect? Are there gaps in text or other inconsistencies that make it appear specious?
  • Are the details correct? Cross check any reference numbers to your existing accounts.
  • What is the nature of this communication? Does it require ‘urgent’ or ‘immediate’ payment. This is often indicative of a scam, trying to push you into making a quick decision.

How can we help?

Unsurprisingly, our advice on this is that it is better to be safe than sorry! Don’t let your guard down and do some checking. Use the checklist above if its helps.

The HMRC have more information online on how to recognise scams, how to report and issue and how to stay safe online, which can be found here;

We are always happy to help, contact your client partner if you have any concerns regarding this matter.


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