Beware scammy SMS messages claiming to come from HMRC

Beware scammy SMS messages claiming to come from HMRC

Beware scammy SMS messages claiming to come from HMRC

‘Tis the season for tax scams here in the UK, and it’s no surprise to learn that scammers are spamming out fraudulent messages posing as HMRC.

Unfortunately for the fraudsters, they don’t tend to target these types of attacks – which means that they can be received by people such as Nicola Simpson, of accountancy firm ENF Solutions Limited, who proactively warns her clients and business network when she spots a scam that might put them at risk.

In this case, Nicola received a suspicious SMS message:

Hmrc phish sms

HMRC: We are glad to inform you that you are eligible for your tax return, claim now: <LINK>

The intention of the scam message is, of course, to dupe unsuspecting tax payers into taking risky actions – such as entering their login credentials.

“The extension of the deadline for submitting your tax return to 28 February 2022 and the cost-of-living squeeze could make it very tempting for a person to click on this link to get access to their ‘tax refund’,” warned Nicola. “If you think you are eligible for a tax refund speak to your accountant, and if you don’t normally prepare a tax return then check your tax code.”

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Nicola advises that HMRC would not contact you like this via SMS, and even if they did get in touch with news about your tax return they would quote your name and tax references in any correspondence.

If you think you’ve received a suspicious text message that might be a phishing scam, here is how you can report it to the NCSC.

In this particular case it looks like the URL has been reported to the authorities, and it is being blocked by leading web browsers. Of course, there’s little to stop scammers trying again – with different URLs and different messages – in their pursuit of the unwary.

It would be good to see more accountancy firms take the lead of Nicola Simpson of ENF Solutions, and proactively warn their clients about the scams they see.

Raising awareness of the problem helps keep the threat of phishing top of mind amongst the general public. You might well forget to file your self assessment tax return on time, but hopefully you won’t forget to be wary of unsolicited SMS messages.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy.

Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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