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Nuisance calls claim to come from HMRC's legal officer
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Scam HMRC legal claim calls still doing the rounds

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A four-year old automated mobile phone scam involving threats of legal action from HMRC is still being operated in the aftermath of the January personal tax payment deadline.

18th Apr 2023
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“This is HMRC. A letter that was sent to you has been returned,” advises an automated lady caller with a transatlantic accent. “We are launching legal proceedings against you. Press 1 to speak to our legal officer.”

The accent and terminology give the game away instantly for anyone with a basic knowledge of UK tax, but “Press 1 to talk” scam calls are still being made in HMRC’s name nearly four years after frankfx raised the alert in Any Answers.

The underlying approach is even older, with members sharing details in 2016 and 2018 of callers chasing alleged HMRC debts who would give a landline number for the recipient call. In the succeeding years, mobile operators introduced premium call options that enhanced the convenience and potential revenue of the scam, so fraudsters could make money from extra mobile fees even if they couldn’t trick the mark into paying or divulging their bank details.

Pressing 1

Some AccountingWEB members shared notes in 2021 about what happens when you press 1 to talk to someone, but HMRC advice is to hang up and report the details via an online form.

According to HMRC, other scam calls using this technique refer to national insurance number fraud or offer a tax refund and request bank or credit card information. As the tax department advises, if you cannot verify the identity of the caller, it’s best not to speak to them.

“Pressing 1 typically also adds your phone number to a subset of the database they’re using (marked as something like ‘potentially gullible’), so you can then expect many more calls,” added Hugo Fair.

Replies (6)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
19th Apr 2023 17:53

Sad to see this still ongoing. One of the earlier iterations stated a police officer was on the way. I had a couple of (mainly elderly) clients very upset by these calls. They can be very stressful even if you know its bobbins.

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By Ben Alligin
20th Apr 2023 09:24

Have you ever tried getting someone claiming to be from HMRC to verify that they are indeed ringing from HMRC, by taking them through their own process i.e. asking for the client's NINO or UTR. They generally refuse to give any information, so I have great delight in putting the 'phone down, having advised them that they have failed to pass my security.

They can of course write to me as the agent, but due to Covid/Working from home/add any excuse you like, you are only dealing with letters received in 1962, so there will be a delay in responding to them.

Sadly I don't get many calls from HMRC these days, it used to cheer me up no end.

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By johnjenkins
20th Apr 2023 10:25

John, you have to understand that with increased technology there will be increased scams. No more bank robberies with guns ablazing. Now it's sitting at home or on a beach with a beer making phone calls knowing that they will catch at least one unsuspecting pensioner, or the like. Banks refuse to take responsibility even though they know where the money goes, or haven't banks caught up with modern technology.
The Nigerian minister wanting to get rid of millions of readies (diamonds) letter is still going around and I first came across that in the late 60's.
These people have umpteen scams at their disposal and have the technology to contact anyone they want to. They know the banks are incapable of stopping them so it's little wonder it's rife.

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By The Rogue
20th Apr 2023 15:01

I had this one a couple of days ago. Apparently it came to light at the border of North Wales - ie the sea.

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By Anthony G Thorne
20th Apr 2023 19:51

I once had a call from someone alleging to be from HMRC and wanting me to go through their security checks to which I said I need him to go through my checks but he failed by not knowing who is boss was. He then made a visit two days later and was very indignant that I had told him he had failed security. In another case HMRC officer was very upset that I had not answered his repeated telephone calls from a withheld number. They need to use a bit more common sense.

HMRC need to get their act together and introduce security first systems and especially using third party debt collectors whose use breaches their duty of confidentiality.

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Replying to Anthony G Thorne:
Chris M
By mr. mischief
24th Apr 2023 19:33

Totally agree. It makes life so much easier for scammers when large organisations behave exactly like scammers in so many different ways.

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