"This call is to notify you that a criminal case is registered against your name for tax evasion and tax fraud by HMRC. We are investigating your financial activities and an arrest warrant has been issued under your name. Get more information about this case. Press 1 before we proceed with legal action. Thank you. "
That is just one of the many scam calls impersonating Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that are making their way across the UK. According to Hiya’s data, HMRC scams are one of the most common types of phone scams seen in the UK.
Every week Hiya receives more than a thousand reports of HMRC scams from users in the UK.
Many varieties of HMRC phone scams
There’s not just one HMRC scam. There are many varieties, but they all have the purpose of stealing an unsuspecting victim’s money or personal information. Below is another transcript of an HMRC scam.
“Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. An official letter sent to you got returned back to HMRC documentation department. Legal actions will be initiated against you shortly. Please press 1 to speak to our officer.”
The wording of this HMRC robocall was captured in Hiya’s honeypot: a collection of Hiya-owned phone numbers, so incoming calls are either wrong numbers or spam calls. The calls are analyzed so that future calls can be blocked or flagged for users of Hiya Protect, Hiya’s call protection solution.
In addition to the honeypot, Hiya also monitors user reports from consumers using Hiya Protect via their carrier, device manufacturer, or the Hiya mobile app. User reports from the U.K. show the wide variety of callers perpetrating HMRC scams. Here’s a sampling of what users are reporting:
“Claims to be HMRC in an American accent!”
“Call from Moscow reporting they are HMRC.”
“Said they were HMRC, from a mobile number!!!”
In addition to threats of arrest and legal action, here are some variations of HMRC scams that users are reporting.
“Stating they are calling about a possible refund from HMRC for working at home during covid.”
“Saying HMRC and wanting my name and address for a refund of taxes.”
“Pretending to be HMRC for an energy rebate.”
“Pretending to be HMRC and using my national insurance as fraud.”
U.K. government aware of HMRC scams
The UK government confirms there are HMRC scams taking place. Gov.UK maintains a webpage warning citizens about the scams:
“HMRC is aware of an automated phone call scam which will tell you HMRC is filing a lawsuit against you, and to press 1 to speak to a caseworker to make a payment. We can confirm this is a scam and you should end the call immediately.”
Gov.UK also warns of HMRC calls attempting National Insurance number fraud or offering tax refunds that require citizens to provide bank or credit card information. The government advises those who have suffered financial losses from HMRC scams to report it to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting center.
How to prevent HMRC scam calls
The best way to prevent an HMRC scam is to block the calls before they reach the recipient.
Carriers can add Hiya Protect, a complete call protection solution that enables carriers to protect their subscribers by blocking and labeling spam calls, and helping them identify wanted calls. Adaptive AI powered by Hiya Protect introduces a new feature called Enterprise Caller Scoring, which accurately evaluates the reputation of callers, regardless of the phone number being used, and stops number rotation from being an effective practice for avoiding spam labels.
With Hiya Connect, enterprises can improve customer engagement and loyalty while protecting their customers from deceitful interactions.
Individuals should check with their phone carrier to see if it offers network-level spam protection. If it doesn’t, individuals can download the Hiya mobile app.