COVID-19: be alert for scams

May 25, 2020

At a time when many people are vulnerable and possibly more susceptible to these phishing attempts, HMRC has asked us to share the below document on scams including COVID-19 related attempts. 

Background  

As a well-known organisation with a recognisable brand, HMRC is a target for scammers.   

We see HMRC-branded tax scam campaigns throughout the year, peaking at different times in line with many of our key business events (for example around the Self Assessment deadline in January).  

HMRC has a dedicated Customer Protection Team, which prevents scams by:  

  • automatically identifying most cyber scams before customer have even reported them to us  

  • asking Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove the malicious content from the websites  

  • deploying innovative technologies to prevent misleading and malicious communications ever reaching our citizens  

  • warning the public through sharing details and examples of genuine and scam communications on GOV.UK and through the media  

  • maintaining channels through which people can report suspicious contact, at phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and 60599 for texts  

  • working with the telecoms industry to identify abuses of the words in texts that can be used in place of 11-digit 07 numbers, and requesting that they are blocked automatically  

  • working with national and international law enforcement organisations.  

Our work in this area has meant that HMRC has dropped from 14th to 146th most-phished brand in the world over three years. However, we know we can never be complacent.  

Covid-related scams  

Criminals are taking advantage of the package of measures announced by the Government to support people and businesses affected by coronavirus.  

HMRC has detected more than 70 Covid-related financial scams to date, most by text message and some by email. 

So far, we have asked Internet Service Providers to take down more than 500 web pages associated with these Covid-related scam campaigns.  

Radio campaign  

In addition to our ongoing work to warn customers about scams, we are running a radio ad campaign, during May, to alert people to an increased threat of scams.  

We are supporting the radio ads with social media posts, including on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  

We are also working closely with the Home Office, National Cyber Security Centre and other government departments, helping to coordinate efforts to combat scams.  

How you can help  

Please help to fight these scams by supporting our social media campaigns:  

HMRC’s radio ads advice  

At HMRC, we’re working hard to fight tax scams during the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Here’s how you can also protect yourself:  

Be alert - Think before parting with your information or money.   

Be calm – It’s ok to refuse requests. If you feel rushed, it could be a scam.  

Be secure - Tell HMRC and your bank if you think you’ve been a victim.  

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. For more information search ‘scams’ on gov.uk.“