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Bogus HMRC calls - what to watch out for

Bogus HMRC calls - what to watch out for
Thursday, February 21, 2019

Fraud costs the UK £190bn a year, according to credit reporting agency, Experian. Everyone, it seems, is a target from people at home being duped into questionable investment schemes to fake emails for non-existent invoices being sent to none-the-wiser accounts clerks. You can be defrauded in the street, by email, on the phone, or by post – no-one is immune.

One of the ways that fraudsters gain the confidence of their victims is to pretend to call or contact them from a company or organisation they will be aware of. It comes as no surprise that many scammers choose to disguise themselves as a taxman chasing up overdue or undeclared tax payments from citizens – and it’s a tactic which is remarkably and unfortunately very successful for them.

There are a couple of phone scams doing the rounds at the moment and the Panthera team thought that this would be a good time to remind our customers and visitors to our website about what they should look out for.

Premium rate phone call scams

One newer variation of the HMRC scam is to redirect calls to a premium rate line costing £35 per minute.

A pawnbroker in Coalville, Derbyshire, was targeted by the scam four times over the course of December 2018 and January 2019. The scammers had altered the caller line identification number to be that of HMRC “even using numbers from different HMRC departments for the callbacks”, reports Derbyshire Live.

Hayley Oudenhuijsen, the victim in this case, was told to “press one to speak to someone immediately” and that, if she did not, a warrant for her arrest would be issued within 24 hours. Although she Googled the number at which point she saw that the number displayed on her system was actually an HMRC number, the person making demands of her spoke with an American accent – “it just didn’t feel right”, she said.

Earlier in January 2019, one victim lost £2,000 to the same fraud (source: Derbyshire Live).

Automated callers

FT Advisor reported that some taxpayers were asked to pay up to £3,000 during a call in which "a female automated voice claims to be from the office of Dennis Grey from HMRC." In a slight variation to the Derbyshire scam, victims were threatened with “legal consequences” if they did not call back or their solicitors did not call back.

Technological services comparison website, Comparitech, released a recording of the call so that potential victims could better understand how the scam worked – click here to listen.

HMRC’s advice

Fraud is on the rise with some HMRC scams asking victims to pay bogus tax demands using iPhone and Google Play vouchers (source: The Sun). According to CyWare, HMRC ordered the takedown of over 20,000 malicious websites in 2018, “particularly those that impersonate HMRC”, a 29% increase on the previous year.

HMRC publish advise for taxpayers on their website about what you should do if you receive a call you think is bogus. As with the cases mentioned above, a common warning signal is that you should press one to speak to a casework to settle a demand.

If you suspect that a call is not genuine, you should hang up straight away and record the date and content of the call together with the phone number used to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. If you suffer financial loss from a scam, HMRC’s advice is to contact Action Fraud.

Contact Panthera

One of the biggest reasons that need every customers cite as to why they are a Panthera customer is because we deal with tax queries on your behalf and your company’s behalf. In nearly all cases, as your registered agent, we’d hear about a problem with HMRC before you.

If you receive a call and you’re concerned about the taxman knowing something that you don’t, please call us and we’ll contact HMRC on your behalf

To find out more, please call 01235 768 561 or email enquiries@pantheraaccounting.com.

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Pete Dungey

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We found Panthera via our search for a Xero expert. We knew the software we wanted to use, and needed a forward-thinking accountancy partner who could get us up and running, and teach us the ropes moving forward. Tory and her team have always been on hand to answer our questions, and help us to grow as a business, particularly during periods of big change, such as becoming VAT registered. They are always on hand to alleviate any concerns and help to keep our records in order, which makes our year-end accounts an absolute breeze! Being based in Bristol, our relationship is entirely email based, alongside one consolidation meeting at year end - this keeps things simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

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An Asset to my Business!

The whole team at Panthera are great! Working with them has been a huge support to my growing business. They help me to understand the numbers I need to know. They give me technology solutions like Xero so that I can process things quickly and have access to my own figures. They are quick to reply, highly knowledgeable, nothing is too much trouble and as well as making sure that everything is compliant and on time, they are enthusiastic, professional and fun to work with.

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Working with Tory and the team at Panthera is an absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level; from simple Xero issues through to more complicated tax enquiries, they’re always on-hand to help me get it right. I’m certainly not their biggest customer, but I’m always made to feel like their most important one.

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I would like to say that Panthera Accounting have helped me with my business accounts for more than 4 years now. They have consistently offered an excellent competitively priced service that works both professionally and in such a friendly way that I would highly recommend them to everyone considering using their services.

John Castle Ilexanna Limited & Birch Castle Homes Limited
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They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues

I had been with Mr Dunn for 20 years when upon his death Panthera took over the business. They now play a bigger part in the running of my business, they do all the stuff that has to be done but I don't like doing ie book keeping, VAT, wages, and returns. They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues and make sure all Tax deadlines are met. Their costs are fair, service is great and I have and would highly recommend them.

Jonathan Morrison Wallingford Builders
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Panthera Accounting have gone above and beyond the call of duty to guide and support our Company. They offer a professional, friendly and personal service that can take the stressful and sometimes frightening feelings out of running a business. They have guided us through the working of Xero and have offered “teaching sessions” on the day to day running of the accountancy package. Our only regret is that we didn’t join their team earlier.

Pippa Scott Scott's Commercial Services Limited
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Tory and her team have provided a friendly, approachable and helpful service from the start. They have delivered a quality service, above and beyond anything I could have expected. Panthera, with the help of the Xero package, have taken the stress, strain and confusion out of managing my company and personal accounts. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

Sara Southey Bluestones Garden Design
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Panthera are fantastic. Always professional, going the extra mile for their clients and delivering superb service. I recommend them all the time to my clients.

Tracey Miller Bigger, Brighter, Bolder BBB

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