HMRC Fraud (4/11/20)
Police Scotland have received reports of malicious calls and voicemails, to members of the public purporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Fraudsters are spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive their victims over the phone. The fraudsters state that as a result of the victim’s non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable for prosecution or other legal proceedings in order to settle the balance. The fraudsters suggest victims can avoid this, by arranging payment to be made immediately by methods such as bank transfer or by purchasing iTunes gift cards.
If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, sending bailiffs to the victim’s address or, in some cases, deportation.
Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact with the victim.
In genuine cases, HMRC will initially make direct contact with you via post/letter and potentially follow up that letter with a phone call at a later date.
If HMRC contact you via telephone they will quote the reference number on the initial letter you should have received. HMRC will not discuss something you are not already aware of, like a tax investigation, and will NOT demand immediate payment.
It is vital that you exercise caution when receiving messages or telephone calls of this nature.
Tips to avoid being scammed:
- Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
- Legitimate organisations wouldn’t ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using an iTunes gift card, or any other type of voucher. If you’re contacted by anyone that asks you to do this, you’re likely the target of a scam
- Know who you’re dealing with - if you are unsure or need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with trading standards at Trading.Standards@edinburgh.gov.uk
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
- Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.
- If you think you’ve been scammed, or someone has come to your door to offer services or goods you were not expecting, report it to Police Scotland on 101. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
- For further advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 or visit our website on this link https://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/personal-safety/doorstep-crime-and-bogus-callers
- For advice and guidance on suspicious emails or 'phishing' emails or text messages, please visit the NCSC website for tips on how to stay safer online.
- Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed or attempts have been made to get money from any of your accounts
- Why not take advantage of the free online training at www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk to learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others.
PC Sonja Kaiser-Ferris
Prevention, Interventions and Partnerships Department
Message Sent By
Sonja Kaiser-Ferris (Police, Constable, Edinburgh)