HMRC letters potentially being mistaken for phishing scams

29 Mar 2021

budget 2021

Whilst caution against phishing attempts is strongly advised, Saffery Champness is warning that a recent round of written correspondence from HM Revenue &Customs (HMRC) is mistakenly being regarded as a scam by recipients. The correspondence relates to self-assessment repayments and asks the taxpayer to provide various pieces of personal information.

The letters, which are being issued from HMRC’s ‘Individual and Small Business Compliance – Direct Tax Repayment Credibility’, are triggered where HMRC’s risk assessment identifies the possibility of a fraudulent claim for a tax repayment. HMRC has advised that it will not process tax repayment claims, and that they will remove the claimant from self-assessment, in the absence of a response to their letter with the further personal information requested.

Following a significant increase in tax repayment fraud, HMRC has increased the number of these letters it is issuing.

Martyn Dobinson, a partner at Saffery Champness and a member of the firm’s Landed Estates and Rural Business Group, comments: 

“We are aware of concerns being raised by our rural clients in receipt of this correspondence from HMRC. We are all now much more aware of phishing attempts and other scams, and since these letters ask for information and copies of documents to enable HMRC to verify the taxpayer’s identity, it’s no surprise that they are being treated with suspicion.

“HMRC is saying that where this information is not supplied, refund claims will not be processed, and that will include genuine claims in most circumstances.

“Our advice for any individual or business in receipt of such a letter is to first ascertain that it has been sent by HMRC. A discussion with your accountant or tax agent, and a follow up call with HMRC, is certainly advised where there is any doubt, and before any sensitive information is forwarded in response.”

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