Fake HMRC Websites: Why Your Business Needs to be Cautious
While the internet is a useful tool for businesses, we all know the importance of keeping ourselves safe online. Payroll is one area where it’s particularly important to keep your data safe and secure, which is why many firms use specialist payroll software for accountants to guard employee data. There has been a recent rise in a number of fake sites being set up masquerading as the HMRC. Simply clicking on these sites can put your data at risk. Read on to find out what you can do to protect yourself.
The HMRC recently announced that they have requested over 20,000 fake HMRC websites to be closed in the last 12 months alone, which is an increase of one third compared with last year. These fake HMRC websites are usually accessed through a spam e-mail, or via a link in a search engine. Some things to look out for include:
- An e-mail from HMRC out of the blue – especially if it’s promising you a tax refund
- Sites that ask for PIN numbers, passwords or bank details
- Any site that your anti-virus tries to block – simply click back and leave
- Any URL not ending in gov.uk
If you have any doubts whatsoever, don’t give the site any personal details. Instead, call the HMRC directly who’ll be able to advise. Whether you carry out payroll processing for accountants or are a sole trader or employee, these sites target people on every level, so don’t worry about being over-cautious.
Visit the HMRC Site Directly
One way to determine if communication from HMRC is genuine is to log in to your personal tax account online. Visit gov.uk and follow the instructions, ensuring there’s a padlock logo in the address bar to indicate a secure site. Once logged in, you can see any genuine messages and correspondence from HMRC. If you use payroll software follow any security instructions you were given in training, and never share your log-ins.
The HMRC is cracking down on these scammers and is relying on business owners and members of the public to play their role in making this a success. You can do this by reporting e-mails and texts directly to the HMRC, which can help prevent others being scammed. When running payroll for bureaus, it’s important that all members of staff are properly trained and know how to detect scams and deal with them accordingly. Fraudsters have been known to go as far as making phone calls to businesses and hacking e-mails to try and con people into making payments. It’s important to be aware of the latest scam tactics so you don’t fall victim.