Last week I was just leaving the office and as I always do I checked my phone. There was a missed call from a number I didn’t recognised. The caller had left a voicemail. Being the inquisitive person that I am I checked the message.
“A case has been raised against you by HMRC,” it said. “Your house is under surveillance,” it so kindly added in an automated English voice.
It just so happened that the previous day I had watched a documentary about those same scams being used in the United States, where people were told they owed thousands in tax and could conveniently pay in gift cards.
My first instinct was of course to know this was a scam. They proceeded to call me a further three times that same day. I tried calling the number back and of course it was out of service. A fake 0800 number had been used.
As I said, I knew of the cuff that it was a scam but what infuriated me was that not everyone would. I began to consider how lots of people would react to something like that. My elderly parents, for example, would be sick with worry if they received a call like that. Many people would.
It is these kinds of things that us so weary of others and makes it so difficult to help one another. If someone offers help it makes you suspicious! That shouldn’t be they way. Gone are the days when you could call someone on a land line, without Caller I.D. and the other person answers! Now it feels like a text first to arrange a call seems necessary to speak to even those closest to us.
It is of course necessary to be wary of these scams. A general rule of thumb for me is if someone calls me asking for money it is more than likely a scam. If it is a company you recognise such as your credit card company, bank or a charity you support politely tell them you will call them back and return on their officially published telephone number. It may be a little inconvenient for the company calling but at least you can rest assured that you have the genuine article.
Returning to the HMRC scam: It boils my blood knowing how upset and worried – especially vulnerable ones – would be at such a call.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article click HERE for more information.
If in doubt please call HMRC directly or forward suspicious text messages to 60599.