We’d like to make you aware of a sophisticated phone scam that a client recently fell victim to.
A man calls a business owner to say that there is an unpaid tax bill and numerous letters have been sent to the business’s registered office.
He is from a debt collection agency and if the bill is not paid immediately over the phone he will be coming to seize the owner’s assets.
The man is assertive, knowledgeable, very articulate and highly convincing. The perfect con artist.
He says things like.. ‘HMRC have begun enforcement action against you under the Taking Control of Goods Regulations’
His persuasive manner and knowledge of the business makes him appear credible and he is subsequently paid for the ‘tax bill’ –to the tune of over £500.
If you are contacted by phone by a debt collection agency take the following steps to ensure its legitimate.
- A genuine agency would have written to you. If the person on the phone says they are coming to your premises ask that they bring a letter and their photo ID
- HMRC use specific debt collection agencies. You can see the full list by following this link.. https://www.gov.uk/if-you-dont-pay-your-tax-bill/debt-collection-agencies
- Ask the person on the phone what agency they are from. Then ask them for their full name and ID number so you can call HMRC and check. Ring the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3862 and they will confirm if your caller is genuine.
Please note that HMRC would normally send a ‘Field Force agent’ out to make face to face contact before resorting to enforcement. If you receive a phone call regarding an unpaid tax bill, seemingly out of the blue having had no letters from HMRC or anyone else, try not to panic or be bullied into immediately paying up.
Get as much information as you can from the caller and make it clear to them that you will be checking their credentials and will require proof of the debt.