Pearson May Financial Update: Don’t get caught out by scams, bogus phone calls or emails

October 8, 2018

As many people are filing their tax returns around this time of year, fraudsters can try to take advantage of this by attempting to contact taxpayers asking them to disclose personal information about their tax affairs or bank details etc, writes Pearson May partner Jacqui Bowden.


One of the most common such scams in the past few years takes the form of a bogus email purporting to have been sent from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) informing taxpayers that they are entitled to a tax repayment. The emails often ask taxpayers to then click on a link in the email or to provide their bank details so that the repayment can be made.

HMRC will never contact taxpayers by email about such refunds, so be very cautious about any email correspondence you receive which appears to have been sent by HMRC. If you are unsure about the content of any emails then it is safer to not click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply with any confidential information.

A worrying new development has come to our attention recently whereby a number of our clients have received threatening phone calls purporting to be from HMRC. They seem to take the form of a recorded message which states words to the effect that there is a legal case ongoing in relation to their tax affairs (implying the individual concerned is in arrears with their tax affairs or has not paid all of the tax they owe) and a warrant for their arrest has been issued by the Police.


The message continued to quote a ‘warrant arrest number’ and stated a phone number which must be called immediately to prevent further action being taken.

HMRC is aware of such bogus telephone calls and note on its website that they often appear to be targeted at elderly or vulnerable individuals.


I am relieved to report that instead of returning the call, our clients contacted us instead. We were able to reassure them that their tax affairs were in order and that the phone call was a hoax. We also contacted HMRC to inform it of the call and it confirmed that it would never contact taxpayers by phone in this manner.


HMRC suggests that taxpayers who receive any suspicious phone calls or emails should forward details, or the emails themselves, to HMRC at or send any suspicious text messages to 60599.  You can also contact HMRC on its general inquiries number 0300 200 3300. There is further information available online at


HMRC includes on its website further examples of recent scams and bogus contact claiming to be from HMRC and how to identify potential phishing emails etc. Unfortunately, fraudsters are always thinking of new methods to trick people in to disclosing personal and sensitive information which could result in a financial loss to the individual. If you are uncertain of the validity of any contact you receive claiming to be from HMRC, you should check with HMRC by contacting it directly (using the contact details above), rather than replying to any emails or calling any numbers that are provided etc.


If you have been the victim of a scam such as those mentioned above and have suffered a financial loss then HMRC suggests that you report it to Action Fraud ( You can also report instances of fraud direct to HMRC using the phone number 0800 788 887.


Generally speaking, HMRC will always contact you by a letter in the post with any urgent matters that require your attention, so the chances are that if you receive a phone call or email/text message claiming to be from HMRC and asking for personal information, it is likely to be a scam.


The above is for general guidance only and no action should be taken without obtaining specific advice. 








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