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Beware of the HMRC scammers, but ignoring calls can be costly

There are many problems associated with the pandemic, apart from the obvious one of the illness caused by the virus itself.

Conmen and scammers have taken advantage of the situation, bombarding people and businesses with bogus claims about tax owed in the hope that just a few respond.

For businesses, the accountant is the first and last line of defence and can save you thousands by preventing you from getting on the wrong side of the taxman.

With people on furlough or working from home, communications have become fractured with much reliance on phone and digital communications. So, it’s vitally important to keep in close touch with your accountant.

We have all had those dodgy calls and voicemails, with the curious numbers, not to mention suspicious emails and texts.

Many will have received a scam/phishing email, supposedly from HMRC, only to discover it’s a fake, however, be warned that not all messages are bogus – as some taxpayers are finding out at their own cost.

This is where your accountant can help with their expert knowledge of tax affairs and the ability to discover whether communications from HMRC are legitimate.

Take the case of someone who contacted a national newspaper after he mistook HMRC for a scammer.

The person was so wary of being tricked, he ignored the messages saying he owed £5,000 and now faces a big tax bill.

Determined to avoid falling victim to email and phone scams purporting to be from HMRC, the person involved ignored the genuine emails amongst the scam phone calls and messages.

After completing his tax return last May, he ignored automated reminders by email telling him to pay the balance due.

In fact, the scammers’ messages were so realistic, he couldn’t tell the difference and had to pay £300 in late payment penalties and interest.

With this case in mind, a quick check with your accountant, who will have a handle on your tax affairs, could save you financial grief in the long run.

Link: I mistook HM Revenue and Customs for a scammer

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