It is no longer certain that if you receive a letter, email, text or phone call – purporting to be the tax office or some similar, regulatory authority – that it is a genuine communication.
Red flags should be waved, and warning buzzers sounded if anyone ever requests personal information or your bank details.
What to do?
In all cases, do not respond directly. Disconnect phone calls, do not reply to texts or emails or make contact from information provided on letters.
Instead, use your computer to search for bona fide contact details. For example, for HMRC search for contact numbers at GOV.UK. Call and ask the relevant authority to confirm that the communication you have received is genuine.
Do not part with your bank or credit card details unless you have done so in response to a transaction (say an online purchase) that you have instigated.
HMRC, for example, will never ask for your bank details, unless you are setting up a formal direct debit. Certainly, they will not call and request this information.
Take professional advice
If you are a client of our practice in receipt of suspect communications from HMRC, call and we will check the authenticity of the request you have received.
You could also get help with online scams by calling Citizens Advice on 0808 250 5050.
Seeing is no longer to be believed
It is unfortunate but seeing may no longer be relied upon to be believable.
The fraudsters that set up these bogus communications have a single intent, to swindle you, to gain access to your hard-won savings. And they cannot do this if you make a point of never divulging your bank details or other personal data unless you are certain it is as a result of a transaction that you have instigated.
There is a thriving community, working from the so-called ‘dark web,’ whose sole intent is to blur the distinction between what is true and what is false.
If you unearth a scam, you can report the incident to the National Cyber Security Centre at ncsc.gov.uk.