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There has been much publicity of late concerning people receiving what have turned out to be “scam” calls from someone pretending to be from HMRC. But calls should be ignored whether they turn out to be fake or not, says Tax Manager, Andrew Cowe.
“Our advice would be to refuse to talk to anyone who claims to be calling from HMRC. The obvious reason is that it is highly likely to be a scam, however it may surprise people to hear us say that we would not recommend having a conversation even if the call is genuine!”
“We are finding an increasing number of instances whereby our clients have been contacted by HMRC and asked questions pertaining to their affairs. To be clear, they should not be doing this, especially to someone with an accountant who is paid to deal with their enquiries, whether they be written or verbal.”
“If it is genuinely HMRC calling, the only reason for them doing so is to unnerve you and get you to say something to your own detriment and their advantage. Put simply, if the matter is important enough to call you about, it is important enough to put in writing so that you can consider the appropriate response in your own good time. Also, in written correspondence there is no doubt as to what is discussed; to put it politely, we do unfortunately find, regularly, that HMRC’s subsequent recollections as to what has been said in a telephone conversation is somewhat different to our own!”
“If you receive a call from someone purporting to be from HMRC, tell them to contact your accountant if you have one, and to put any query they have to you in writing if you don’t. If it’s a genuine call they will do just that. If they persist then it is almost certainly a scam, and don’t be afraid to simply put the phone down.”
Andrew Cowe, Tax Manager, Brearley & Co
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