Latest advice from HMRC on phishing scams

Do you pride yourself on the ability to spot a fake email and send it straight to the trash bin? Dodgy spelling and grammar, unprofessional formatting, and requests to ‘reset’ account information are all clues that a scammer is targeting your account, and most of us are on high alert for these unwanted messages.

Yet cyber criminals are getting ever more sophisticated, and ‘spear phishing’, which targets potential victims with great accuracy, is a threat we can’t afford to ignore. Click on a link from a bogus email and you could find that your whole company network becomes infected with malware, paralysing the business until the problem is fixed.

When a huge company or organisation falls victim, we hear all about it on the news. But every day smaller businesses are affected and these attacks tend to go unreported. A recent survey by DAS UK Group revealed that 43% of SMEs experienced a cyber-attack or breach in the last 12 months. Phishing attackers usually aim to steal sums over £10,000, while ransomware tends to ask for smaller amounts so that the victim is more likely to pay up.

phishing scams - credit card and fishing hook on keyboard

It’s particularly alarming when scammers pose as trusted institutions or government bodies: HMRC, for example, is a favourite ‘front’ for fraudsters. Often, emails or SMS messages purporting to be from HMRC will promise a tax rebate. To claim it, you are tricked into revealing bank account information, and accounts will then be plundered. In March 2018 alone, HMRC requested 2,672 phishing websites be taken down and received 84,549 phishing reports.

To help combat the problem, HMRC has issued detailed guidance explaining what kind of emails or texts businesses and individuals can expect to receive, and how to distinguish between genuine and fake correspondence. 

Read HMRC’s guidance on cyber security for some excellent general advice as well as information that’s specific to tax and National Insurance-related matters.

AMR Bookkeeping – your data is safe with us

We take cyber security very seriously and do all we can to protect against any breach. Rigorous ongoing training ensures that we stay up to date with the current cyber landscape to ensure that our payroll and bookkeeping services remain secure.

With clients across Kent, London and the South East, we set the highest possible standards and will always be happy to talk to you about our digital safety procedures. If you ever receive a suspicious email from HMRC and you’d like to check its contents with us, please do get in touch and we can reassure you – or warn you to hit that delete button!

To find out more, ring us on 01892 559480 or drop us a line via our contact page.

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