SEISS SCAM HMRC EMAIL
Taxpayers should be warned of a new phishing scam landing in inboxes as the fourth self-employed income support scheme grant is now open for claims.
To the untrained eye, the official-looking Gov.uk logo, typeface and format is convincing enough to fool a self-employed trader to hand over their details in return for an SEISS grant. But this is a new phishing scam that’s masquerading as an SEISS notification to trip-up desperate traders eagerly awaiting the latest grant.
What does the email say?
The email with the subject line ‘HMRC SEISS Tax Refund Notification’ alerts the recipient that claims for the SEISS grant have now opened for application and directs them to sign in to ‘HMRC online services’.
As reported on AccountingWEB, the window to claim the fourth grant will open in “late April”. However, the scam email states “the date for submitting application for the Fourth SEISS grant start 22 April 2021 (sic)”.
The message instructs the user to sign in and “follow step 1 of 3 to have your tax refund credit to your bank account”. The email recipient is then advised to have their passport and driving licence details in order to submit the application.
The self-employed worker is then encouraged to click the ‘HMRC online services self assessment’ hyperlink. The fraudulent email continues: “For security reason we will record (IP Address, Time and Date) Deliberate Wrong input or flooding will be criminally pursued” (Sic).
Aside from the grammatical mistakes, the tell-tale sign that this is a scam is the reference to the grant as a tax refund. As AccountingWEB’s tax editor Rebecca Cave pointed out on Twitter, “SEISS is not a tax refund.”
Those that have received the email have advised others to be wary of emails from [email protected].
Accountants are well aware of the constant threat of HMRC phishing scams and have warned clients of suspicious email communication.
However, HMRC may not be in the habit of sending emails, it has dispatched messages and letters done to those that may be entitled to the fourth grant.
In a recent example, HMRC sent an email to a number of established self-employed traders on 26 February 2021 asking them to prove they are still trading before they can claim the next two grants. If they didn’t respond by the 22 March, these taxpayers would have been blocked from further SEISS claims.
Again, the accountant was not copied in on this email. So with traders waiting on tenterhooks for the latest grant, it’s not unreasonable that some could have been easily fooled by the latest phishing scam.
The fourth grant covers the period from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021 at 80% of trader’s average profits. The grant will be open for taxpayers that traded in the tax years 2018/19 to 2020/21. Self-employed workers will have until the window closes on 1 June to make their claim. A recent article on AccountingWEB summarises the key conditions of the latest grant.
The government confirmed at the Budget that in addition to the upcoming fourth grant, there will be a fifth SEISS grant that will be payable for the three months to 31 July 2021 (up to a maximum of £7,5000). The portal for the fifth grant is expected to open in late July 2021.
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