At a time when the entire world is struggling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and businesses are seeking every possible way to keep going, there is one group of people for whom no words are strong enough. They are the crooks who try to take advantage of vulnerable people and steal their money via scam emails, calls and texts. This report by Experian suggests that fraud has grown by one third in the last few months, so it’s really important not to be taken in.
One of our clients reported a recent instance when he received a call on his landline from this number: 0203 405 3443. It was a pre-recorded message saying there was a fraud investigation being carried out by HMRC into his business. Fortunately, he smelt a rat and simply put the phone down. Our advice to anyone would be to do the same. HMRC will not call you out of the blue. If they really want to get hold of you then they will write and it’s relatively easy to identify from a letterhead whether it’s genuine or not.
The same client told us how his wife had received an email purporting to be telling her how much money she would get under the next tranche of the government’s Self-employed Income Support Scheme. As she is due to receive money under SEISS, she nearly opened it, but fortunately twigged that the email address from which it had been sent didn’t look right. Incidentally, this is one of the best ways of identifying fraudulent emails – click on the email address to see the full address and if it looks remotely dodgy then delete (fully) the email. If you have a spam filter, train it to recognise such emails. Don’t worry that you might thus miss a genuine email from HMRC because HMRC will never contact you by email regarding a tax repayment or tax payment.
The simple rule is this: ff you are in any doubt, stop what you are doing. Hang up the phone or delete the email or text. Call us if you want reassurance and we’ll help.
Julie Downie, Accounts Manager