The Coronavirus outbreak has caused immeasurable disruption in our personal and professional lives, and we want to take an opportunity to encourage all our clients to be extra vigilant about the communications you receive via text, phone call and email during this period.
Unfortunately, there are scammers taking advantage of this challenging time, who are using the very vulnerability we are feeling as a way of illegally accessing funds from the bank accounts of those who want to protect their income.
The UK Government recently announced that a financial support package will be made available for the self-employed, which will see HMRC make direct contact with individuals who qualify and pay a grant into their bank account.
Since this package was revealed, there has been a spate of bogus communications including phishing texts, emails and telephone calls claiming to be from HMRC, requesting the bank details of individuals.
This is a strong reminder that these communications should not be taken at face value; now, more than ever, it will pay to do your research around whether any contact you receive is legitimate. Our advice is that HMRC is unlikely to ever contact you by email or text; it is standard practice for HMRC to only contact you by letter and until there is an official announcement from the Government that this has changed, do not give out your bank details by text, telephone or email.
Additionally, do not click on any links in emails you receive, claiming to be from HMRC. There has been a huge rise in emails which include the HMRC logo and invite the recipient to ‘access your funds now’. These emails take the user to a fake Government page and are illegitimate.
If you receive a text, phone call or email regarding self-employment grants and pay-outs, simply contact HMRC yourself to validate the query. You can find the relevant department here: https://www.gov.uk/contact-hmrc.
You can also contact us and check whether the nature of the communication is something HMRC would legitimately contact you about.
You should inform Action Fraud of any text, email or call which turns out to be bogus by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting https://reporting.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting. Additional security advice can be found on the gov.uk website, here.
Scammers like this want to make a hard time even more difficult; be vigilant, don’t allow them to.