Look out for unofficial HMRC emails

East of England-based specialist agricultural accountants Moore Thompson is warning people to be aware of fraudulent emails and imitation HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) websites as the 31 January deadline for self-assessment tax returns looms.

The number of so-called ‘phishing’ emails – correspondence designed to acquire sensitive information such as passwords and credit card details – is likely to increase as scammers look to prey on unsuspecting taxpayers. Purporting to come from HMRC, they often demand payment or claim that a refund is due.

Mark Hildred, Managing Partner at Moore Thompson said: “HMRC will never inform you about a tax rebate or penalty by email, so if you receive one of these messages, report it immediately by forwarding the message to: phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

“Also, be suspicious of emails that request personal or payment information such as usernames, passwords, bank or card details, and messages that use a vague non-specific greeting, such as ‘Dear customer’.”

As well as phishing emails, copycat websites exist that outwardly appear to be official and part of a Government service. However, there is a risk that if you use one of these sites, you could end up paying for services that you could get for free by using the official service.

“People should be very careful about which website they are on before providing their personal information,” added Mark.