Phishing is the fraudulent act of emailing a person to get their personal or financial information. These emails then often include a link to a bogus website encouraging the recipient enter their personal details.
HMRC have updated their guidance to help people recognise genuine contact and avoid being suckered in by phishing emails. They are particularly concerned that with the need to help businesses prepare for Brexit fraudsters may piggyback on their letters, emails or phone calls regarding preparations for Brexit.
Whilst HMRC wants to encourage businesses to read and take the actions included in the communications they have also made it very clear that these communications will never ask personal financial information.
During October and November 2019 HMRC is undertaking a number of research projects which means tax players will be contacted by third party reserachers. These include the independent research agency Ipsos MORI, who are carrying out research into perceptions of HMRC communications. HMRC is keen to encourage participation in this study and other to help improve services for taxpayers but is keen that fraudsters are kept at bay. Participation in any of the research projects is voluntary and all answers will be confidential. Any letters or emails inviting people to participate will not request any financial information.
Other research studies taking place include:
- Making Tax Digital for business VAT service email questionnaire
- Research into the needs of charitable organisations in relation to tax
- Tax challenges faced by self-employed taxpayers
- Research about experiences of saving and understanding of taxation on savings
- Research into employment benefits and remuneration
- Research about customer experience of HMRC
- National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage – telephone interviews about employment
- Businesses’ views towards HMRC’s digital transformation
Aside from these research studies there are any number of reasons why HMRC might contact taxpayers from ompliance checks for mid-sized businesses, charities or public bodies to providing email alerts to let taxpayers know they can view their annual tax summary.