I received the tax refund text message today and knew straight away that it was a scam
For a brief moment though, I must admit I was a little excited. It wasn’t all that much money but who wouldn’t be happy with free money!
Despite the fact that I never get anything from the government, there were a few things that made me recognise straight away that it was a scam. Here’s a screenshot of the text message;
The Obvious Signs
As you can see with this tax refund text message, they have managed to get the text to appear to come from HMRC…..but;
- I’ve never opted to receive text messages from HMRC (not sure if you have to) but furthermore, I don’t even think they have the number that this text was sent to.
- There’s no reference made to my name. If it could be so personalised that it can have the specific amount that I’m due, then surely it should have my name.
- The website they referred me to is .co.uk and not .gov.uk. That’s a dead giveaway. All official government websites will be .gov.uk
- When you go to the website, you are not asked to log in, just to enter your details. From past experience with the government, whenever they want to do anything online, they will ask you to log into your account.
- The site not only asked for my sort code and account number but it also asked for my card details….really? If you want to pay me money, all you need is my sort code and account number.
These scammers have really gone through a lot of trouble here and even though to me it’s obvious that this tax refund text message is a scam, chances are some people will fall for it and hand over their bank details.
I would always urge people never to hand over their details by phone or online to anyone their not sure about. Especially if they contact you out of the blue. It’s normally safer if you call them or visit their website to make any payment you might owe or to make any claim to money they owe you.
Following are a few things to keep in mind that will help you identify fraudulent emails.
HMRC will never text you to;
- notify you of a tax rebate
- offer you any form of repayment
- ask you to disclose personal information such as your full address, postcode, Unique Taxpayer Reference or details of your bank account
- give a non HMRC personal email address for you to send a response to
- ask for financial information such as specific figures or tax computations, unless you’ve given them prior consent and you have formally accepted the risks
- have attachments to their emails, unless you have given prior consent and you have formally accepted the risks
- provide a link to a secure log-in page or a form asking for information – instead they will ask you to log on to your online account to check for information
These scammers have obviously done their homework as this is the time of year that you would normally get a tax rebate if one was due. There is often a spike in the tax refund text message scam being attempted around this time of year as some people might be expecting to get a tax rebate.
It is important to note that legitimate tax rebate forms, called P800s, from HMRC will contain a payment order and will never ask for credit or debit card details and would always be sent to you through the post.
Gareth Lloyd, head of digital security at HMRC, said: “HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax refund via email – we always send a letter through the post.”
“If you receive an email claiming to be from HMRC which offers a tax rebate, please send it to email@example.com and then delete it permanently. We can, and do, close these websites down, and do all we can to ensure taxpayers stay safe online by working with law enforcement agencies around the world to target the criminals behind these scams.”
A good rule to follow is to never give out your bank details to anyone that contacts you. Especially before you’ve had a chance to do some checks on them. Be safe out here and protect your money.