© Crown copyright 2018
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples
If you think you’ve received an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) related phishing or bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples 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 get the same or similar phishing email or text message on multiple occasions, please forward it to email email@example.com and then delete it.
Don’t 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.
Tax refund and rebate scams
HMRC will never send notifications by email for:
- tax rebates
- personal or payment information
Don’t visit the website within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.
A selection of email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate scam emails are below:
Phishing email and website example
An example of an HMRC related phishing email scam and associated phishing website designed to trick people into disclosing personal information is below:
HMRC may sometimes send text messages, however we will never ask for personal or financial information. If you get a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering a ‘tax refund’ in exchange for personal or financial details you shouldn’t reply. Don’t open any links in the message.
It would help our investigations if you could forward details of the text message to 60599 (network charges apply) or email firstname.lastname@example.org before deleting it.
An example of a phishing text message is below:
Tax rebate scams containing PDF attachments
HMRC is aware of a phishing campaign telling customers they need to ‘download a PDF attachment’ to get a tax refund.
The PDF attachment contains a link to a phishing site asking for personal or financial information. Don’t reply to the email or download the attachment.
Forward it to email email@example.com and then delete it.
The email has been issued in various formats, an example of this scam is below:
Bogus phone calls
HMRC is aware of an automated phone call scam which states that HMRC is filing a lawsuit against the recipient of the call and states they should ‘press 1 to speak to a caseworker in order to make an immediate payment’. We can confirm that this is a scam and you should end the call immediately.
This scam has been widely reported, and appears to be targeting elderly and vulnerable people.
Other scam calls may offer a tax refund and request you to provide your bank or credit card information. If you cannot verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you don’t speak to them.
If you’ve been a victim of the scam and suffered a financial loss you can report it to Action Fraud.
The calls have been made using a variety of phone numbers, it would help our investigations if you could report full details of the scam (date, time, phone number used and content of the call) to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Social media scams
HMRC is aware of direct messages being sent to customers via social media.
A recent scam was identified on Twitter offering a tax refund.
These messages aren’t from genuine HMRC social media accounts and are a scam. We would never offer a tax rebate or request personal or financial information via a social media direct message.
If you can’t verify the identity of the social media account, we recommend you send the details to email email@example.com and ignore it.
An example of a social media scam is below:
HMRC is aware of companies that send emails or texts advertising their services. They offer to apply to HMRC for a tax rebate on the customer’s behalf, usually for a fee. These companies aren’t connected with HMRC in any way.
We advise you to read the ‘small print’ and disclaimers before using their services.
Export clearance process (delivery stop order) emails
Emails which claim that goods have been withheld by customs and need a payment before release are known as ‘419 scams’.
HMRC is aware that customers have received emails asking for personal and financial information or upfront payments in exchange for the fictitious items:
- lottery winnings or prize money, including lottery winnings
- seized goods or packages (held by customs and excise)
- certificates or bonds
- inheritance payments
An example is below:
Fraudsters may sign off such scams using the name of a real HMRC member of staff to make the scam appear genuine. If you’re in any doubt, please forward the email to HMRC for verification to email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Request to complete NRL1 forms and return by fax
Lettings agents and landlords living abroad are being targeted by a series of scams asking for:
- completion of a form NRL1 (by email, letter or fax)
- 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’) aren’t sent by HMRC and shouldn’t be completed.
We will never ask you to disclose personal information by email or fax.