Recent reports suggest that telephone based scams by individuals posing as HMRC officers may be on the increase.
A member reported their experience as follows:
“I had a call this afternoon from a man called Horton who said he was phoning from Marston Holdings and that they were enforcement officers for HMRC. They said I owed a sum of money and that their bailiffs would be calling round in about half an hour to collect the sum due. The amount had only fallen due on 7 November but they said they had an enforcement writ from the court.
“I got very angry and was put through to a Mr Brian Jones who said he was the general manager from HMRC debt collection unit. He wanted me to make a payment there and then whereupon he would waive the 20% debt collection charge. He gave me the name of the bank account and said the usual VAT office bank account wouldn’t apply. He had no information about the other VAT returns I had made and I hung up.
“I phoned the VAT helpline who said that their Debt Management Unit had not taken any such action and that it was obviously a scam. Worryingly the fraudsters seemed to know my name, company name, address and the correct amount I owed the VAT office, which suggests they had managed to get some detailed information illegally. I have since spoken to an HMRC representative who seems fairly certain that my Gateway account could not have been hacked, and wondered if my email had been intercepted in some way. This does actually seem to be the more likely explanation.”
Dorset police recently received thirteen reports of such scams on one day, all in a fairly local area. One of the methods used was the iTunes voucher scam which has been around for some time but is still being used.
The latest HMRC advice on phishing and scams is available on gov.uk and has been updated three times since July with new examples. Suspect emails should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org and fraud should be reported to Action Fraud.