Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails and texts

HMRC has updated their guidance on how to recognise when contact from HMRC is genuine and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages.

A full list of current digital and other contact issued from HMRC can been found here.

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.

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.

Read examples of phishing and bogus emails for more information.

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

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’.

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.

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

Attachments

Be cautious of attachments as these could contain viruses designed to steal your personal information.

If you’ve received a phishing or bogus email related to HMRC, or you’re not sure if it’s genuine, you can read about how to report internet scams and phishing to HMRC.

 

For more information visit: GOV.UK recognising phishing emails