Guidance

Phishing emails and bogus contact: HM Revenue and Customs examples

Updated 5 January 2017

If you think you have received an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide.

It will help our investigations if you report all ‘HMRC related’ phishing emails and bogus text messages to us. Even if you receive the same/similar phishing email or text message on multiple occasions, please forward it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it. Do not open any attachments or click on any links within the email or text message, as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a bogus website.

Email scam addresses

Tax rebate/refund

HMRC will never send notifications of a tax rebate/refund by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email. Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information. A selection of scam email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate emails can be seen below:

  • reve.alert@hmrc.gov.uk
  • services@hmrc.co.uk
  • noreply@hmrevenue.com
  • service@hmrc.gov.uk
  • service.refund@hmrc.gov
  • secure@hmrc.co.uk
  • hmrc@gov.uk
  • taxes@hmrc.co.uk
  • taxrefund-notice@hmrc.gov.uk
  • taxrefund@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refund-help@hmrc.gov.uk
  • service@online.com
  • email@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refund.alert@hmrc.gov.uk
  • refunds@hmrc.gov.uk
  • srvcs@hmrc.gov.uk
  • alertsonline@hmrc.co.uk
  • info@hmrc.gov.uk
  • rebate@hmrc.gov.uk

HMRC does not use any of the above email addresses.

Phishing examples

Examples of an HMRC related phishing email/phishing website designed to trick people into disclosing personal information can be seen below.

Example of a phishing pending tax refund notification to trick people into disclosing their personal information.
Example of a phishing online services refund form to trick people into disclosing their personal information.

Text messages

HMRC may occasionally issue text messages, however these messages will never request personal or banking information. If you receive a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering a ‘tax refund’ in exchange for personal/banking details you should not respond. Do not open any links contained within the message.

It would help our investigations if you could forward details of the text message to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk before deleting it.

An example of a phishing text message can be seen below.

Example of a text message giving details of a refund to trick people into disclosing their personal information.

Create a Government Gateway account

HMRC is aware of a bogus email advising customers they need to ‘create a government gateway account’ in order to receive a tax refund. Do not respond to the email, click on any links or download any attachments. Please forward it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it.

The email has been issued in various formats, an example of this scam can be seen below.

Example of a bogus email telling customers they need to ‘create a government gateway account’ in order to receive a tax refund.

VAT Return email scam

HMRC is aware of a bogus email requesting customers to review their VAT return. Do not respond to the email, click on any links or open the attachment, as this contains malicious software. Please forward the email to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it. An example of this scam can be seen below.

Example of a bogus Tax Return email

Refund companies

HMRC is aware of companies who issue emails advertising their services. They offer to apply to HMRC for a rebate of National Insurance/tax on the customer’s behalf, usually for a fee. These companies are not connected with HMRC in any way.

Historical phishing emails

The following are descriptions of phishing emails already reported by customers to HMRC.

PayPal

Emails advising customers to download an attachment to request a tax refund via PayPal. Do not download the attachment.

Example of a bogus email advising customers to download an attachment to request a tax refund via PayPal.

Security checks

Emails sent to customers from secure@hmrc.gov.uk claiming that HMRC is carrying out additional security checks and requesting confirmation of bank details. Do not click on any of the links contained in the email.

Export clearance process (delivery stop order)

Emails claim that goods have been withheld by customs and require a payment before release.

Requests for payment or personal information

HMRC is aware that customers have received emails requesting personal details or payment in exchange for:

  • lottery winnings
  • seized goods/packages (held by Customs and Excise)
  • certificates/bonds
  • inheritance payments
Example of a bogus email requesting personal details for an advanced payment from HMRC.

HMRC will never request payment or personal details by email.

If you receive any of these emails please forward them to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete them.

Fraudsters sometimes sign off such scams using the name of a genuine member of HMRC to try and make the scam appear more genuine. If you’re in any doubt, please forward the email to HMRC for verification.

Example of a bogus email requesting personal details for HMRC to release funds placed on hold.
Example of a bogus email requesting personal details for a compensation payment from HMRC.

This company is not connected to HMRC and you are under no obligation to reply to the letter.

Bogus callers

HMRC is aware that some people have received telephone calls or home visits from people claiming to be from HMRC. These bogus callers may encourage you to provide bank account/personal information in exchange for ‘tax advice’ or a bogus refund.

If you can’t verify the identity of the caller we recommend that you do not liaise with them. You may wish to consider reporting the incident to Action Fraud.

You can also read about recognising phishing emails and text messages.

There is currently a telephone scam where a recorded message is left, allegedly from HMRC, stating that HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against the individual and are going to sue them. The recipient is asked to phone a telephone number and press ‘1’ to speak to the officer dealing with the case. This scam is becoming widely reported and seems to be targeting older people.

Request to complete NRL1 forms and return by fax

Lettings agents and landlords living abroad are being targeted by a series of scams. These request completion of a form NRL1 (by email, letter or fax) and ask for a considerable amount of personal information.

These forms (which may be headed ‘Application for Withholding Certificate for Dispositions by Foreign Persons of UK Real Property Interests’ or ‘Application for a tax-free account and to receive rental income without deduction of tax for Non-UK Residents’) are not issued by HMRC and should not be completed.

HMRC will never ask you to disclose personal information by email or fax.