A Birmingham accountant has warned businesses to be aware after he was targeted by an email tax scam.
Henry Briggs, senior partner of the Birmingham office of chartered accountants Haines Watts, warned other businesses to be sceptical if they received unexpected emails from HM Revenue and Customs offering a tax refund.
“The email was highly convincing although the wording and style were different to regular HMRC correspondence,” said Mr Briggs. “What differentiates these from other scams that also seek to obtain bank account or credit card details is that they often carry the legitimate logo and website address. The increased requirement from HMRC to file tax returns online, and the ability to pay tax by credit card, has contributed to their believability.”
Mr Briggs warned that not only the personal taxpayers were being targeted in the scam. Large companies have also received the very same email although none had been taken in by the fraud.
The accountant said it was never advisable to transfer any details of financial accounts via email and he warned any sceptical taxpayers to contact their district tax office immediately and voice their concerns to an Inspector of Taxes.
He said: “There are a few telltale signs but often, they would only be spotted by advisors used to dealing with HMRC. Words like ‘fiscal’ activity and references to ‘GBP’ are not used in correspondence by HMRC.
“What is frightening is that legislation is currently being put forward to allow the taxman to collect taxes direct from a taxpayer’s bank account. Let us hope that the authorities realise the danger of this.”