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Genuine HMRC Emails and How to Recognise Them

BY HMRC

1. Current list of digital and other contact issued from HMRC

1.1 Self Assessment - email reminders

If you haven’t sent in your Self Assessment tax return, or you owe any Self Assessment tax, you might get an email reminder from HMRC. This year, HMRC will send email reminders for the tax return and payment deadline of 31 January 2015. This will begin from 16 January 2015.

Additionally, if you’ve opted to get digital instead of paper contact for Self Assessment, you’ll get email alerts from HMRC. They’ll not ask you for any personal or financial information.

HMRC will send you 2 types of email:

  • verification that your email address works, this is sent immediately after you’ve signed up to the message service
  • telling you when there’s a new message for you

If you have any delay in getting the verification email, or you aren’t sure about its origins, log into HMRC Online Services and ask for a new verification email. Any other reminder messages won’t contain any personal information or links to login pages.

If you make any changes to your email address, you’ll get a new verification email but you’ll also get an email to your old account to confirm the change has happened.

1.2 Tax credits letters from Concentrix

From November 2014, a company called Concentrix will be working on behalf of HMRC to check that people are receiving the correct amount of tax credits.

Some tax credits customers will receive a letter that shows both HMRC and Concentrix logos. The letter will tell customers what they need to do, and the information they may need to provide. Concentrix may also contact customers by telephone.

HMRC and Concentrix won’t ask customers to disclose any personal or payment information by text or email. Both HMRC and Concentrix are committed to ensuring the security of customer information.

1.3 Tax credits - SMS text message or voice text prompts

HMRC are sending SMS and voice text messages to a number of tax credits customers where the income details they’ve given HMRC differs from information shown on their employer records. HMRC is asking these customers to contact them using an 03000 telephone number.

The SMS or voice text message won’t ask customers for their bank details or any information that doesn’t relate to their income for tax credits.

The SMS and Voice text message will make clear to customers what they need to do.

1.4 Employer email alerts

HMRC sends informational emails several times a year to employers who have registered to receive them. These emails never ask you to provide personal or financial information.

The latest emails will be sent from 17 December 2014. They’re titled ‘Important information for employers’ and refer to Employer Bulletin 51.

1.5 PAYE notices and reminders

If you’ve set up email reminders and notifications using one of the options available in HMRC’s PAYE Online Service you’ll automatically get sent an email when there’s something new for you to view.

HMRC has also started to send electronic reminders if you don’t send your payroll submissions on time, or you’re late making payments to HMRC. These contain messages to help you put processes in place so that you can pay and file on time - before new in-year penalties start in April 2014. You can read more about using PAYE Online for employers.

You may also receive email warning notices if HMRC hold records for you, and where you have yet to submit any PAYE reports to HMRC in real time. These messages will inform the employer that they need to act now to avoid incurring penalties, and they should either advise HMRC if they no longer employ anyone, or start reporting in real time.

These emails will not ask you for any personal or financial information.

1.6 Educational emails

HMRC will periodically send emails to customers to support their business life events. The emails will include links to relevant online digital education material used to offer you help in relation to your business and will appear in your address bar as no-reply@hmrc.gov.uk. These emails will never ask you to provide personal or financial information.

2. How to tell if an email is fraudulent

As well as spelling mistakes and poor grammar, there are a number of things you can look out for to help you recognise a phishing/bogus email.

2.1 Incorrect ‘From’ address

Look out for a sender’s email address that is similar to, but not the same as, HMRC’s email addresses. Fraudsters often have email accounts with HMRC or revenue names in them (such as ‘refunds@hmrc.org.uk’). These email addresses are used to mislead you.

However be aware, fraudsters can falsify (spoof) the ‘from’ address to look like a legitimate HMRC address (for example ‘@hmrc.gov.uk’).

Examples of phishing and bogus emails

2.2 Personal information

HMRC will never:

  • send notifications of a tax rebate by email
  • ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email

2.3 Urgent action required

Fraudsters want you to act immediately. Be wary of emails containing phrases like ‘you only have 3 days to reply’ or ‘urgent action required’.

2.4 Bogus websites

Fraudsters often include links to webpages that look like the homepage of the HMRC website. This is to trick you into disclosing personal/confidential information. Just because the page may look genuine, does not mean it is. Bogus webpages often contain links to banks/building societies, or display fields and boxes requesting your personal information such as passwords, credit card or bank account details.

You should be aware that fraudsters sometimes include genuine links to HMRC web pages in their emails, this is to try and make their emails appear genuine.

2.5 Common greeting

Fraudsters often send high volumes of phishing emails in one go so even though they may have your email address, they seldom have your name. Be cautious of emails sent with a generic greeting such as ‘Dear Customer’.

2.6 Attachments

Be cautious of attachments as these could contain viruses designed to steal your personal information.

3. Report HMRC related phishing/bogus emails

If you have received a phishing/bogus email related to HMRC, or you’re not sure if it’s genuine, you can read about how to report internet scams and phishing to HMRC.

Published January 2015