Posted by James Pearson on 07 Sep 2018
Companies House and HMRC Scam Alert
For many years scammers have sent bulk emails pretending to be from H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The emails will normally involve a tax rebate or urgent problem which will require you to log into a false HMRC website and provide your bank details and tax reference.
Other scams involve emails or calls pretending to call from Companies House (CH) and asking for various details about the director and the CH online authentication codes. CH have confirmed they will never ask for such information over the telephone, especially authentication codes. If you receive a call, purporting to be from CH which you believe may be a scam do not disclose any information but ask for the request in writing. If the call / letter is authentic the return address will be Crown Way, Cardiff, CF14 3UZ and telephone number: 0303 123 4500.
HMRC and CH have both provided guides on how to recognise scam emails which are linked below. They contain much more detailed information on this matter.
- HMRC: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples
- CH: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reporting-fraud-about-a-company-to-companies-house/known-fraud-and-scams
How to Spot Scam Emails
There are many ways to spot a fraudulent email from HMRC:
- Firstly it is very rare for HMRC to send an email directly to you. They will also never provide you with a link to click on to log in.
- HMRC will never send notifications of a tax rebate by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email.
- HMRC will not attach zip files (.zip) or programs (.exe) to an email. Nor will they require you to download a PDF to obtain a refund.
- HMRC will never ask you to provide confidential or personal information such as passwords, credit card or bank account details by email.
- Fraudsters want you to act immediately. Be wary of emails containing phrases like ‘you only have three days to reply’ or ‘urgent action required’.
- Neither HMRC nor CH will ever use exclamation marks!
The ‘To’ Address
When an email is sent exclusively to you the ‘To’ field will always contain your email address or name. HMRC only send emails to one person at a time. In most cases, scam e-mails are sent to hundreds of addresses at a time so the ‘To’ address will be empty or titled ‘recipient’.
The ‘From’ Address
When HMRC send emails they will be from a legible email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Any other variation of an email address will not be used.
Known email addresses used for fraud attempts are:
If you have any doubt of an email received from HMRC or Companies House please contact your accountant of adviser immediately. Alternatively please call the National Action Fraud Hotline on 0300 123 2040.
How to Contact HMRC
If you are uncertain whether a document or message is genuine, and you want to contact HMRC about it, we would recommend that you contact the appropriate HMRC department using the contact telephone number & details for HMRC found on their website (https://www.gov.uk/contact-hmrc). Do not use any contact details from the message that you suspect is fraudulent.
If you would like any advice regarding fraudulent messages purporting to be from HMRC or CH, or would simply like to discuss other ways in which we could help you or your business, please contact us on 01962 856 990 or firstname.lastname@example.org