“HMRC Payment Error” Scam Email

A scam email is doing the rounds claiming to be from HMRC in relation to an error processing a payment.

Do not open this email, as it will download malware to infect your computer.

But there are some clues that this is a fake:

  1. The most obvious clue is the attachment – particularly the .doc extension on the attached file.  This indicates an older version of a Microsoft Word document, which can easily incorporate a virus or software components to access your computer’s data.
  2. A genuine secure message from your HMRC would involve logging onto your account via their official website.  No bank, public body, company or any other reputable organisation would ever send a secure message in an attachment – and certainly not in a Word document.
  3. It was sent to an individual who is not responsible for corporation tax payments.  But if someone who does make such payments on behalf of their employer received this, they could be fooled or panicked into opening the attachment.
  4. A further clue in this particular instance is that it was received on an email address that had only ever been given to the Sunday Times Wine Club and had never been given to HMRC.   The recipient of the email uses a different email address for every company to help identify where data breaches occur.

If you receive a suspicious email appearing to be from HMRC you can report it to them using the email address: phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.   They also have a page giving advice on such frauds.

You can also report this type of email to Action Fraud.

Here is the text contained in the email:

HM Revenue & Customs
HMRC Payment error

Dear Customer

Your payment has been received by HMRC, but we encountered an error processing your payment. We require you to verify your transaction details and sign attached document for further processing.

Tax Corporation Tax
Tax reference 75812277127A00113A
Payment reference 7c004312-13fe-4a1f-9a34-54be9e9d1ca7
Amount paid £22,341.00

If you have an online tax account your payment will take 3 to 5 days to show in your account.
Why you got this email

We have encountered an error while processing your payment.

From HMRC Online Payments
If you’re unsure an email is from HMRC:

Do not reply to it or click on any links
Report the suspicious email to HMRC – to find out how, go to GOV.UK and search for ‘Avoid and report internet scams and phishing’