Identify HMRC related scam phone calls, emails and text messages

Use a checklist to decide if a suspicious contact is a scam and not a genuine phone call, text message (SMS) or email.

Check what to look for first

Use the following checklist to decide if the contact you’ve received is a scam. You can use it for phone calls, emails and text messages.

It could be a scam if it:

  • rushes you
  • is threatening
  • is unexpected
  • asks for personal information like bank details
  • tells you to transfer money
  • offers a refund, tax rebate or grant

For more help view examples of HMRC related phishing emails and bogus contact .

Check a list of genuine HMRC contact and campaigns to help you decide if the one you’ve received is genuine.

Other signs to look out for

Suspicious phone calls

HMRC will never:

  • leave a voicemail threatening legal action
  • call threatening arrest

View an example of a bogus phone call.

WhatsApp messages

If you receive any communication through WhatsApp claiming to be from HMRC it’s a scam. Take a screenshot and forward it as an email.

QR Codes

HMRC use QR codes to help you complete your payment to HMRC using a mobile device.

The QR code will first be displayed when you’re logged into your HMRC online account through the Government Gateway, on a desktop browser.

You will then be able to use your mobile phone to scan the code which will allow you to continue your payment on your mobile.

We will never send you a QR code. If you receive a QR code at any time, it’s a scam.

Gift or payment vouchers

HMRC will never ask you to pay with gift or payment vouchers.

If you’ve already shared personal details

You can report a disclosure of personal information to the HMRC security team.

If you’ve been a victim of a scam and suffered financial loss, report it to Action Fraud.

Published 29 October 2020
Last updated 13 January 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on what to look for first and suspicious phone calls.

  2. Added information on QR codes.

  3. First published.