Identify tax 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
  • threaten arrest

View an example of a bogus phone call.

Text messages

HMRC does send text messages to some of our customers.

In the text message we might include a link to GOV.UK information or to HMRC webchat.

HMRC will never ask for personal or financial information when we send text messages.

We advise you not to open any links or reply to a text message claiming to be from HMRC that offers you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details.

To help fight phishing scams, send any suspicious text messages to 60599 (network charges apply) or email: then delete them.

WhatsApp messages

If you have subscribed to the UK Government Channel on WhatsApp, you will receive updates that might include occasional tax-related reminders. These will be single message alerts and you will not be able to reply.

HMRC will not communicate with you for any other reason using WhatsApp.

QR codes

HMRC uses QR codes in our letters and correspondence. The QR code will usually take you to guidance on GOV.UK. We will tell you if the QR code takes you anywhere else.

You will never be taken to a page where you have to input personal information.

When you are logged into your HMRC account, we may use QR codes to redirect you. For example, to take you to your bank’s login page.

If we’re using QR codes in communications you’ll be able to see them on the genuine HMRC contacts page.

To help fight phishing scams, send any suspicious emails containing QR codes to then delete them.

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 or to Police Scotland by calling 101 if you live in Scotland.

Published 29 October 2020
Last updated 22 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. We have updated the 'QR codes' section of this guide, as we now use QR codes to take you to websites other than GOV.UK. If a QR code does not take you to GOV.UK, we will tell you.

  2. Information about the new UK Government WhatsApp Channel, and how HMRC will use the Channel, has been added.

  3. Information about how HMRC use QR codes has been updated.

  4. Information about when HMRC might send you a text message has been updated.

  5. We have added a reporting phone number for Police Scotland.

  6. Added translation

  7. Added translation

  8. Information about how HMRC use QR codes has been updated.

  9. Information about when HMRC might send you a text message if you call one of our helplines from a mobile phone, and what it might include has been added.

  10. Updated information on what to look for first and suspicious phone calls.

  11. Added information on QR codes.

  12. First published.