/ Money

Listen to this HMRC scam voicemail

The news that HMRC is to crack down on ‘number-spoofing’ is timely – here’s a scam voicemail I received just last week. Have you been contacted?

HMRC’s helpline numbers often begin with 0300, so when I received a call from one last Thursday morning, it did make me look twice.

I’ve got a bit of a policy to not answer numbers I don’t recognise, though. After all, if they’re legitimate and it’s important, I rely on the caller to leave a voicemail. When it’s a cold call or a scam, that hardly ever happens.

But then a voicemail did arrive.

A tax fraud case registered in your name

The message implores you to press ‘1’ to ‘get connected to the officer of HMRC’. The message goes on to make the threat that if you’re not connected, a warrant will be issued under your name and you ‘will be arrested shortly’.

Listen to the voicemail:

That part was a little too close to parody for me and did make me laugh at its outlandishness.

But when I played it to my parents a few days later, they made a good point; ‘that could be scary for some people – less tech-savvy people could easily panic and think that was real’.

And it is a good point. In voicemail form, this particular scam might not represent much of a threat (pressing 1 while listening to your voicemails isn’t going to connect you to anyone).

But I’m now thinking of the psychological impact on someone who could easily think this was real – it’s an especially disturbing message to receive under the guise of an official government department.

‘Breakthrough’ controls to fight number-spoofing

Criminals have been able to fake calls from real HMRC numbers, meaning anyone Googling it to check on its authenticity may well be tricked into thinking the call was genuine.

Fortunately, HMRC is fighting back. New measures have been implemented in partnership with Ofcom and the telecoms industry in an attempt to put an end to number-spoofing.

The tax authority said it had already received 25% fewer scam reports than the previous month. Criminals will still turn to less credible numbers to attempt their scams, but eliminating the illegitimate use of official numbers will make them much easier to spot.

Gareth Shaw, Head of Which? Money said:

“For too long, fraud victims have lost life-changing sums of money to scammers they believed to be legitimate. Number spoofing can be incredibly hard to spot, so it is good to see HMRC, one of the most impersonated firms, taking action to stop fraudsters from exploiting their helpline number and identity.

A cross-sector approach is needed to tackle fraud, and it is now vital other public bodies and firms that are commonly impersonated follow this example and work with telecoms companies and Ofcom to stop fraudsters spoofing their numbers and targeting victims”

We’ve put together advice on how to spot HMRC phone scams, including voicemails that contain threatening language such as this one.

You can report these calls to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or use its online reporting tool.

Have you received a call or voicemail from HMRC scammers? Do you think tactics like this could succeed in duping vulnerable people?

Comments

I was a victim to this scam. I paid £14,000 over a 3 hour dialogue. I have run my own business for a decade. I have an MSc. The scammers played me like an idiot because the context and nature context of them chasing me for payment was so close to my then late payments to HMRC. The guy on the phone conducted himself as a typical HMRC agent. There was a choreographed dialogue of navigating the HMRC website and call backs on legitimate HMRC “0300”numbers. I was convinced and taken in. What has been equally distressing other than feeling a complete fool for being duped is that RBS has cynically ignored the new voluntary APP scam and after a 2 month wait concluded “I should have rung the HMRC before making a payment” and bounced my refund claim. I again have been duped based on the RBS website’s hopeful tone to find the reality is for them to construct a case placing total blame on the victim. I am now moving into the Ombudsmen stage and keep you posted.

I got an e-mail supposedly from HMRC a few years ago and it was that badly written I burst out laughing when I first read it. It started with Dear tax payer which immediately rang alarm bells then said we have been looking at your financial doings and want you to have a refund of £600+ . Please click on link below to receive this. Certainly I will click on Delete!

Amelia says:
7 October 2020

I received this call today – number 01223 206995

Having had some of my personal details stolen and distributed to criminals after the “Linked In” leak, and being elderly, I am subjected to many and varied scams weekly. I now have a huge list of phone numbers used by scammers. These numbers are not destributed at random, there must be some authority that issues them. To my mind these people are just as dishonest as the scammers themselves if they are not making any attempt to exercise control over the issue of numbers and to investigate their misuse.
I also think that the companies who allow customers’ personal data to be obtained by criminals to be liable to pay these customers compensation; an ammount that increases if the notification of the leak is delayed.

You advise people to report scams to Action Fraud. Do you genuinely believe that Action Fraud is more than just a hollow instrument? If so could you explain why?

David Heyes says:
23 October 2020

Just received at 15:20 today – member 020 3805 2829

Chris B says:
30 October 2020

Just received the same message 02036312531 30/10/2020 09:41am – I hope karma gets them good.

Gareth says:
2 November 2020

just had this call from 07140 594423 @ 08:12 bit early gov a fake.gov call

I recieved a similar call with a recorded message today, claiming fraudulent use of my tax details. I listened for about 10 seconds and hung up. The number was 0151 854 4006. It took a few seconds for the message to kick in when I answered. The voice was a bit comedy so I didn’t take seriously but some people may.

Nicholas John says:
4 November 2020

Just had one of these calls this morning (from a mobile number 07718 369552). Its quite ludicrous really and I LOL’d . The sinister thing is wondering how people are selected to get these calls. Maybe pure coincidence, but I had just submitted my Tax Return and been advised that I owe £172 in Tax. Nothing particularly unusual about this as I had just declared some untaxed income. However it did make me wonder if the fraudsters had some inside information to select their victims? Any other indications of this?

I find it quite satisfying to put these numbers into the “Who Called Me” website and see how many times the scammers have been thwarted. (And report the attempt at the same time).

Nick Williams says:
8 December 2020

Got a call today, 8th December 2020 from 01519516618 with the recorded message about an HMRC fraud case and to key 1 to continue. I hung up.

dfded says:
15 December 2020

i had one yesterday

It’s a world wide problem as folk with contacts in N America, Australia etc will confirm. Can’t the likes of Bill Gates put some effort into bringing it down ? They bought about the revolution in Comms yet can’t, or don’t want to, stamp this stuff out.
I sometimes play scammers along, & waste their time pretending partial deafness asking them to repeat everything with use of phonetic alphabet then pretending another call’s coming in on a 2nd line which l think is a scam & asking their advice onhow to handle it.
An asian sounding woman once told me her ‘work’ was her only available source of income.

laura thomas says:
13 January 2021

I received a voicemail from a mobile today saying the same as above from 07753 113123 today. Again, I have recently had dealings with self assessment so wonder if this is a coincidence?

Hi guys i received a call from this number 0151 913 9613, and it has same voicemail! Becareful of these Scammers. Thanks 👍

Thank you for sharing!

Michelle Williams says:
24 February 2021

Just had the same recorded message from number 07742 497366. I just blocked their number.

Nick says:
2 March 2021

Just had the same call, from a mobile 07428 326124. The words were the same but the voice was lower, more like the tube “mind the gap” announcement. Reported to HMRC within 10 mins of call.

zabaira Kauser says:
6 March 2021

I got a phone call from WhatsApp saying they are from the HMRC and that your income didn’t match what you have written on your income because I get universal credit and that you own us money other wise we will get a warrant for your arrest. They said we are on our way and we will sent someone now and they kept saying to me on the phone go to a private room where your family members can’t listen and send us a payment through phone. They took £4000 off me £3000 grand which I had on my savings and £1000 from my current account. I managed to get all that back from the banks fraud team. But I lost £565. I was so p****d off.

Just got a call from 07426237509 saying tax fraud was recorded under my name and should press 1 . I just hung up and block number. Got nearly taken for £400 a few weeks back saying it was Sky and wanted to refund me for slow wifi. I was dealing with my father just having a stroke and doing homeschooling and didn’t think it through but near the end it clicked that it a scam 😔

Shirley says:
26 March 2021

Got a call from 07427 122274 today saying tax fraud under my name, recorded message, man with lower voice. I hung up.