HMRC have recently released an update warning the general public about new phishing campaigns. They have shared examples demonstrating how these scams work and have provided appropriate information explaining why they are illegitimate and how to report phishing scams. It is important to keep actively aware of new phishing campaigns as it can help prevent and reduce the chances of yourself and those around you from being scammed.
Where might I be contacted by a scam?
There are a few ways in which you may receive a phishing scam. This could be by;
• Social Media.
How do these scams work?
There are many ways in which phishing campaigns work. They try to impersonate either a figure of authority, a company or someone you may know. You may be sent attachments or links which could contain malicious software or direct you to a misleading website. It is important that you do not open or engage with any scams. Instead, you should report it and block the contact immediately.
What phishing campaigns are currently around?
HMRC has reported an increase in scams that involve fake HRMC, Government, and refund companies. These have a particular focus on Covid-19, tax refunds, rebates, and financial advice. HMRC have released the following information with regards to fake HMRC phishing scams;
• HMRC do not send notifications by email regarding refunds or tax rebates.
• HMRC will never ask for personal or financial information through text messages.
• There are automated phone call scams that will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you and that you will need to make a payment. This is a scam and you should end the call immediately.
• ‘WhatsApp’ will never be used to contact customers about a tax refund.
• Direct messages sent to customers through social media such as Twitter offering a tax refund are not from genuine HMRC social media accounts and are a scam. Social media will never be used to contact you.
• Companies that offer to apply to HMRC for a tax rebate on your behalf, usually for a fee are not in any way associated with HMRC.
How can I tell it is a scam?
It can be difficult to tell if something is a scam however, some scams have identifiable characteristics such as creating a sense of urgency, evoking emotions such as fear, hopefulness and curiosity, threatening language, a sense of authority and focus on creating a sense of scarcity. They can often provide external links, which lead to malicious websites. Alternatively, they may ask you for personal information or encourage you to call an unknown number. Even if you are unsure as to whether it is a scam, it is best to refrain from any interaction. Instead, you should report it.
What should I do if I receive something suspicious?
Should you receive anything suspicious, it is important to report it and block the contact. Reporting phishing campaigns not only keeps you safe but also allows others to be kept safe too. You can report HMRC scams here or any other scams here.
What can I do to protect myself?
Unfortunately, there are new phishing campaigns every year. It is important that you keep updated with current scams to help prevent yourself from falling victim. To help protect yourself you can;
• Review your privacy settings on social media and other online accounts.
• Change your phone number to be ex-directory or unlisted.
• Research how to keep yourself safe on social media.
• Purchase legitimate antivirus and malware software.
• Change passwords regularly.
Makinson & Co are happy to offer advice regarding any concerns or questions you may have regarding your own finances. Contact us today by using our online form, or by calling us on 01594 842 188.