Is HMRC’s message real or fake?
HMRC has issued an updated version of their online guidance on Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails and texts. The guidance provides a current list of genuine messages from HMRC. This includes email messages, text messages and telephone contacts from HMRC.
The latest updates on the list includes confirmation that HMRC is contacting selected taxpayers by phone in relation to National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage enquiries. Taxpayers will be asked some basic questions about current working, or previous employment experiences and will be given the opportunity to request that their current or previous employer are not informed about the phone call.
HMRC is also sending emails to some businesses that have signed-up to the Making Tax Digital for Business VAT pilot. The email includes a link to a short voluntary questionnaire asking for feedback on the sign-up and submissions process.
Although all these communications are genuine, taxpayers should still be wary of receiving messages that are purported to come from HMRC. Fake email and text messages can appear to be genuine, but clicking on a link from these messages can result in personal information being compromised and the possibility of computer viruses affecting your computer or smartphone.
One recent example of a fraudulent email that appeared to be sent from HMRC stated that a recent submission had been 'successfully received but unfortunately failed HM Revenue & Customs data checks and could not be accepted'. The email went on to request that the recipient use the attached link to correct the submission and send it again. The email looked genuine, but the email address from which the email was sent, looked suspect. Further investigation revealed that this was indeed a scam email but serves as a useful reminder of the continued importance of being vigilant.
Don't open suspect messages or follow links
If you are unsure as to the validity of any message it should not be opened until the sender can be verified. The validity of letters from HMRC can also be checked by contacting HMRC directly by telephone to confirm if a letter is genuine.