© Crown copyright 2017
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 have received a 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 email@example.com 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.
Tax refund/rebate scams
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 email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate scam emails can be seen below:
Phishing email and website example
An example of a HMRC related phishing email scam/and associated phishing website designed to trick people into disclosing personal information can be seen below:
HMRC may occasionally issue text messages, however these messages will never request personal or financial information. If you receive a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering a ‘tax refund’ in exchange for personal/financial 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 60599 (network charges apply) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org before deleting it.
An example of a phishing text message can be seen below.
‘Create a Government Gateway account’ scam
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 email@example.com and then delete it.
The email has been issued in various formats, an example of this scam can be seen below.
Social media scams
We are aware of Direct Messages being issued to customers via social media, for example a recent scam was identified on Twitter offering a tax refund. These messages are not from genuine HMRC social media accounts and are a scam. HMRC would never offer a tax rebate or request personal/financial information via a social media direct message. If you cannot verify the identity of the social media account, we recommend that you do not engage with it and report details to firstname.lastname@example.org. An example of a social media scam can be seen below:
HMRC are aware of companies that issue 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 are not connected with HMRC in any way. We would advise that you should read any ‘small print’/disclaimers prior to using their services.
Export clearance process (delivery stop order) emails
Emails which claim that goods have been withheld by customs and require a payment before release are known as ‘419 scams’.
HMRC is aware that customers have received such emails requesting personal/financial information or upfront payments in exchange for the following fictitious items:
- lottery winnings/prize money
- seized goods/packages (held by Customs and Excise)
- inheritance payments
An example can be seen below:
Fraudsters may sign off such scams using the name of a genuine HMRC member of staff in an attempt to make the scam appear genuine. If you’re in any doubt, please forward the email to HMRC for verification to email@example.com.
HMRC are 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 an incident which has incurred a financial loss to Action Fraud.
You can also read about recognising phishing emails and text messages.
Recorded telephone message threatening Legal Action
HMRC are aware of 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.