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News & Portal: HMRC

Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails

15 May 2020  
Posted by: HMRC
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By HMRC: Updated 6 May 2020
 
Contents
  1. Current list of digital and other contact issued from HMRC
  2. How to tell if an email is fraudulent
  3. HMRC SMS text messages 
1. Current list of digital and other contact issued from HMRC
 
1.1 Government support for workers and businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) - survey emails
 
Between April and June 2020, you may receive an email from Ipsos MORI inviting you to take part in an online survey on behalf of HMRC.
 
The survey is about the government support schemes available for workers and businesses affected by coronavirus. It aims to understand more about their awareness of the support offered.
 
We encourage you to take part in the study as it will help us to improve the support given to those whose incomes have been affected by coronavirus.
 
If you do take part your answers will be:
  • confidential
  • anonymised
  • used for research purposes only
1.2 Deletion of Government Gateway User IDs - emails
 
The Government Gateway will be sending emails to customers who have not used the service in the last 2 years. A follow up or reminder email may also be issued.
 
The emails:
  • offer advice on how to keep or delete the Government Gateway User ID
  • will not contain any links or attachments
  • do not request any personal or financial information
1.3 Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
 
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme was announced by the Chancellor as a coronavirus measure. This is a grant for the self-employed who are impacted by coronavirus based on a set of eligibility criteria.
 
From May 2020 HMRC will invite customers to check their eligibility by:
  • SMS
  • email
  • letter
The message you get will direct you to GOV.UK and will not include any hyperlinks.

1.4 Help to Save - online survey
 
Between February and April 2020, HMRC are working with BMG Research Ltd to carry out research with customers who’ve opened Help to Save accounts.
 
The research will look to understand customer experiences of Help to Save.
 
Customers selected to take part will receive an email:
  • from BMG Research Ltd
  • asking them to complete an online survey
The email will not ask for any personal or financial information.
 
1.5 Mid-sized businesses - customer experience survey
 
Between September 2019 and March 2020, you may receive a letter from IFF Research and HMRC inviting you to take part in this survey.
 
This annual survey helps us understand:
  • mid-sized businesses’ experiences of dealing with HMRC
  • how to improve our services
  • the impact of various changes and initiatives
If you do take part your answers will be confidential and used for research purposes only.
 
1.6 HMRC research on businesses who deal with customs processes
 
You may receive a telephone call or letter from Ipsos MORI inviting you to take part in this research.
 
Between January and May 2020 Ipsos MORI will carry out interviews to understand more about the customs intermediaries sector and its:
  • structure
  • size
  • capacity
We encourage you to take part in the study as it will help us to improve the support given to businesses preparing for customs arrangements.
 
If you do take part your answers will be:
  • confidential
  • anonymised
  • used for research purposes only
1.7 Non-UK residents purchasing property in the UK
 
Between January and March 2020, you may receive a telephone call or letter from IFF Research inviting you to take part in this research.
 
IFF Research will carry out interviews to help us understand more about non-UK residents who purchase residential property in England and Northern Ireland.
 
If you do take part your answers will be:
  • confidential
  • used for research purposes only
1.8 Preparing for Brexit
 
You may receive a letter, email or phone call from HMRC regarding preparations for Brexit.
 
These may be:
  • sharing actions you need to take to prepare for Brexit
  • informing you of actions HMRC has undertaken on your behalf to prepare for Brexit
  • asking questions about your readiness for Brexit and providing support to help you achieve readiness
  • signposting to further information on gov.uk
We encourage you to read and take the actions included in the communications. As part of these communications we will never ask personal financial information.
 
1.9 National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage – telephone interviews about employment
 
HMRC will sometimes contact customers by telephone to discuss current, or previous employment details.
 
If you are contacted, HMRC will make it clear the call relates to a National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage enquiry. Customers will be asked basic questions about current working, or previous employment experiences.
 
HMRC will complete some standard security questions but will not ask for any financial information. You will be given the option to request that your current or previous employer are not informed about the phone call.
 
1.10 Annual tax summary – email alerts
 
The HMRC Self Assessment team are sending email alerts to some customers advising that their annual tax summary is available to view. The emails are titled ‘Your Annual Tax Summary is ready’.
 
The emails explain what is in the annual summary. These emails will never ask you to give your personal or financial information.
 
1.11 Paying into your Help to Save account – emails
 
HMRC may contact some customers by email who have opened Help to Save accounts. The emails will remind customers who have not paid any money into their account about the benefits of using this service.
 
The emails will not request any personal or financial information.
 
1.12 How prepared businesses are for Brexit
 
You may receive a letter and phone call from Ipsos MORI telling you about this research and asking you to take part.
 
You can either:
  • request further information about the research project
  • tell Ipsos MORI that you do not want to take part
We encourage you to take part in the study, as it will help us understand how to support businesses preparing for Brexit.
 
1.13 Businesses’ views towards HMRC’s digital transformation
 
You may get a letter from IFF Research telling you about the research, and a telephone call inviting you to take part. You can either:
  • request further information about the research project
  • tell IFF Research that you do not want to take part
We encourage you to take part in the study, as it will help us understand how your business will deal with changes to tax administration that make it easier to use and more efficient.
 
1.14 Compliance checks for mid-sized businesses, charities or public bodies
 
HMRC may contact customers to arrange a compliance check interview to take place by telephone.
 
When calling to arrange telephone interviews, we may also ask for business records to be sent by post or electronically, by a secure platform.
 
You can check if requests are genuine by asking the HMRC staff member to send an email while you are on the call to confirm their identity. Their email address should have their name and end in @hmrc.gov.uk.
 
You can also call the relevant general enquiry helpline to check requests for:
  • VAT for businesses
  • tax for employers
  • Corporation Tax for limited companies
When you call, you’ll need to have either your:
  • VAT registration number
  • employer reference
  • 10 digit Unique Tax Reference
1.15 Emails and letters to overseas businesses that sell digital services to UK consumers
 
HMRC is contacting overseas businesses who sell digital services to UK consumers about their UK VAT obligations by email and post.
 
This communication will explain why we are contacting them, and ask them to contact us. We will not ask for any personal, business or financial information.
 
1.16 Emails aimed at businesses selling goods in the UK through online marketplaces
 
HMRC is contacting businesses who sell goods to customers in the UK through online marketplaces. The emails refer to VAT obligations in the UK. The initial email will explain why HMRC is contacting them, requesting them to get in touch.
 
1.17 Helping to improve GOV.UK – emails
 
Customers who sign up to help improve GOV.UK to make government services better, will receive email communications from HMRC.
 
The first email will include a link which should be followed in order to complete the signing up process. The second email, issued after registration, will include a link to a research blog.
 
Once customers have signed up, they may receive emails that include links to short surveys about research.
 
If customers meet the criteria for the research, they’ll receive an email that will invite them to take part. The email will either have a link to take part online or additional details to take part face-to-face.
 
The emails will not request any personal or financial information. They’ll all contain a link to unsubscribe.
 
1.18 Emails sent to customers promoting the Personal Tax Account
 
Customers who contact HMRC helplines will be asked if they wish to sign up to a Personal Tax Account (PTA). For those customers who do not wish to sign up by telephone, they’ll be offered further information by email.
 
If customers agree to provide an email address, they’ll be sent some information by email while they’re on the telephone. The email provides background information about the benefits of signing up to PTA and how the customer can go about doing it.
 
The email will not request any personal or financial information.
 
1.19 VAT EU emails
 
Customers that use the VAT EU refunds service may receive an email if their claim has failed validation. The email will provide details explaining why the claim has failed.
 
The emails will not request any personal or financial information.
 
1.20 Trade statistics import and export data emails
 
HMRC’s Trade Statistics Unit regularly sends emails to business customers regarding import and export statistical data, and the related services accessed from HMRC’s trade statistics website.
 
These include business alerts, service updates, deadline reminders, data quality reviews and survey requests. These messages may include links to further information, educational or survey content on the HMRC’s trade statistics website.
 
They will not request any personal, payment or tax related information.
 
1.21 Debt management
 
1.21.1 Voice prompts to landline and mobile phones
 
HMRC is sending voice prompts to some customers, explaining what you need to do if you’re behind with your payments. Customers will receive these as an inbound phone call giving details for paying HMRC or a helpline number for you to contact.
 
HMRC is also sending messages that’ll give advice about the importance of making payments using the correct information.
 
The messages will not request any personal or financial information.
 
1.22 VAT emails
 
1.22.1 Sign up for Making Tax Digital for VAT
 
HMRC will send an email to customers who have signed up for Making Tax Digital for VAT using the Sign up for Making Tax Digital page.
 
HMRC will confirm you can submit VAT Returns within 72 hours using the email you provided. This email will be sent from: noreply@tax.service.gov.uk and will not ask you for any financial information.
 
1.22.2 VAT Returns – email reminders
 
HMRC will send an email to customers to remind them when their VAT Return is due if they’ve registered to receive email reminders. The emails are entitled ‘Reminder to file your VAT return’ and contain links to a further information page and a link to the sign in page on GOV.UK.
 
These emails will never ask you to provide personal or financial information.
 
1.22.3 VAT registration – email
 
HMRC will send an email to customers who have registered for VAT using HMRC online services. HMRC will use the email address customers have provided to advise that they need to log into their online tax account in order to view a message in the secure messaging area.
 
These emails will never ask you to provide personal or financial information.
 
1.22.4 VAT debts – email reminders
 
HMRC may send an email to customers who are overdue with VAT payments. HMRC will use email addresses that customers have already provided and will recommend that customers pay online to avoid further action. These emails will never ask you to provide personal or financial information.
 
You’ll not be able to reply to the emails, which will be sent from: no.reply@advice.hmrc.gov.uk.
 
1.23 Help and support emails
 
HMRC will periodically send emails to customers to support their business life events. The emails will sometimes include links to relevant online digital education products, used to offer you help in relation to your business and the email will appear in your address bar as: no.reply@advice.hmrc.gov.uk.
 
These emails will never ask you to provide personal or financial information.
All emails issued from this address, are sent by Granicus (GovDelivery) our trusted email service provider.
 
1.24 Tax-free Childcare emails
 
HMRC’s Tax-free Childcare service regularly send emails to advise parents that they could be missing out on government contributions towards childcare costs from the UK Government.
 
1.25 Employer email alerts – employer bulletins
 
HMRC sends informational bulletins several times a year to employers, who have registered to receive them. These emails never ask you to provide personal or financial information.
 
These emails, issued by HMRC is commonly entitled ‘important information for employers’.
 
The emails include links which direct recipients to HMRC pages on the GOV.UK website, including advice about online security.
 
1.26 Statutory notices requesting information
 
HMRC’s Centre for National Information (CNI) regularly issues statutory notices to the holders of certain types of information, asking them to provide relevant details to HMRC. The holders of the information have a legal obligation to provide the data requested.
 
The notices requesting information can be sent by post or email.
 
Notices issued by email will also contain a link to this web page so the recipients can see that HMRC is using email for this purpose.
 
1.27 Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) email reminder
 
The HMRC ATED Process Team are sending email reminders to agents and companies advising them of their responsibilities to complete their ATED return by 30 April 2020. The emails are titled ‘ATED Return’.
 
These emails will never ask you to give your 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 or 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.
 
If you are not 100% sure that the message has come from us, do not open it. If you do open the email and you are in doubt, do not click on any links or downloads.
 
 
2.2 Personal information
 
Emails from HMRC will never:
  • notify you of a tax rebate
  • offer you a repayment
  • ask you to disclose personal information such as your full address, postcode, Unique
Taxpayer Reference or details of your bank account
  • give a non HMRC personal email address to send a response to
  • ask for financial information such as specific figures or tax computations, unless you’ve given us prior consent and you’ve formally accepted the risks
  • have attachments, unless you’ve given prior consent and you’ve formally accepted the risks
2.3 Urgent action required
 
Fraudsters ask for immediate action. 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 or confidential information. Just because the page may look genuine, does not mean it is.
 
Bogus webpages often contain links to banks or 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 webpages 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. Emails from HMRC will:
  • usually use the preferred name you’ve provided to us, where you’ve signed-up to HMRC subscription services for example
  • always include information on how to report phishing emails to HMRC
2.6 Attachments
 
Be cautious of attachments as these could contain viruses designed to steal your personal information.
 
3. HMRC SMS text messages
 
3.1 SMS text message or voice call – activating multi-factor authentication and logging into your HMRC tax account
 
Multi-factor authentication is an extra security feature for customers which replaces 2-step verification. It helps prevent someone else from accessing a customer’s digital account, even if they know the user ID and password. HMRC will send an access code by SMS or voice call to the customer’s chosen mobile phone or landline number to activate the multi-factor authorisation. The customer will need this code to complete the access.
 
These SMS messages and voice calls will never ask the customer to provide personal or financial information.
 
Customers who have activated multi-factor authentication will only be able to access the account using:
  • the Government Gateway user ID and password
  • the mobile or landline device which they have registered
3.2 SMS text messages: Self Assessment, VAT, PAYE and Corporation Tax customers
 
HMRC may contact customers who have debts or outstanding returns to:
  • request payment
  • request overdue returns
  • update their personal or business address
HMRC may also remind them of payment or return submission deadlines becoming due.
The messages will either direct them to the GOV.UK website or ask them to contact HMRC by phone to make payment or update their addresses. The messages will not include or request any personal or financial information.
 
3.3 Confirmation and update texts
 
HMRC may contact you by text to confirm the receipt of:
  • a claim
  • a form
  • other correspondence

The current confirmation SMS messages being issued are:

  • Child Benefit – education changes
  • PAYE or Self Assessment complaints
  • VAT DIY House building

3.4 National Minimum Wage - SMS campaigns

HMRC advises customers by text message who claim Working Tax Credits when their entitlement to National Minimum Wage has gone up following:

  • a recent 18th, 21st or 25th birthday - messages are issued on a monthly basis
  • the annual rate increase on 1 April

HMRC also contacts apprentices by SMS text message after the annual rate increase on 1 April. The SMS texts are issued from June, on an annual basis.

These messages do not request any personal or financial information.

3.5 Tax-free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare SMS messages

HMRC will contact parents by text message if they have not reconfirmed their eligibility.

3.6 GOV.UK Coronavirus Alert – SMS campaign

You may receive an SMS entitled ‘GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT’ stating ‘New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info & exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives’. The SMS will be sent from UK_Gov.

These messages do not ask you to reply or give out any personal or financial information. The link within the SMS will only direct you to the GOV.UK website giving advice on what you need to do during the coronavirus outbreak.


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