Updated 24 Feb 2020
It is almost March, how time flies! The tellows team has also been busy keeping the information about phone scams up to date. As expected, unfortunately, the number of spam calls, especially related to cost traps, is soaring because of more advanced technology nowadays and scammers having more means to escape from the authorities. Scammers have been taking advantage of taxpayers in last year. According to HMRC, over 100,000 reports of frauds were reported last year and the number is increasing. Last year, HMRC announced that it has been working with Ofcom, Mobile UK, Mobile Ecosystem Forum and Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum together to prevent bogus tax calls. The cooperation was successful and 1050 numbers have been deleted by HMRC, of which many numbers started with 0300. HMRC also stated that the number of phone scam reports has reduced by 25%, which is a very promising sign.
Here we are in the season of Springtime tax scams, again scammers are trying to take advantages from us, especially targeting the young people and the senior as stated by HMRC. The numbers of youngsters and the elder possessing a smartphone is growing through these years. According to Ofcom Communications Market Report 2018, over half of the population who aged over 55, and 95% of young people (from 16 to 24) own a smartphone in the same period. This means that fraudsters have higher chances to scam people successfully through bogus text messages or phone calls.
Phone scammers are directing at youngsters and the vulnerables since most of them are less familiar with the tax system. HMRC stated that close to 2,500 reports of tax scams were reported per day last Spring, with roughly 250,000 reports received in total during the whole season.
Scammers are most likely approaching potential victims with refund scams in the tax period by email or texts pretending to be HMRC. They will offer a tax refund or payment for around 100 pounds in exchange for personal information such as bank account details. Be prepared for phishing websites. HMRC already made 6000 requests to shut down these cloned websites last tax season. Moreover, Fraudsters mostly asked for immediate action, therefore beware of phrases like ‚you only have 2 days to reply‘ or ‚urgent action required‘ in text messages or e-mail.
According to Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith:
“These criminals will contact victims in many ways including spoofed calls, voicemails and text messages. People should spot the signs of fraud and be wary of emails with attachments which might contain viruses designed to obtain personal or financial information.”
Take Five, the national campaign that advises on protection against financial fraud, Katy Worobec:
“The offer of a tax rebate might sound tempting, but don’t let the criminals hoodwink you into giving away your details or your cash. If you’re worried that you might have given away any of your information, then contact your bank straight away.”
This time tellows would like to share some insights about the impact of the Brexit on phone scams and unwanted calls. As we are all concerned, the Brexit is not only a frustrating process, but besides its own complexity and influences, there is also a very annoying side effect – the Brexit scams. Phone frauds are not strange to us, there are many fraudsters in the UK and we often read news about phone scams. However, Brexit is making it worse by providing these scammers more ways to deceive people. Let’s take a look at the latest four Brexit phone scams.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez and Kevin Grieve on Unsplash
Getting to know the Brexit scams
HMRC Brexit scams
Do you own a business and trade with the EU? If yes, then lets assume you have been told by the government that you have to register for a ‚UK trader number‘. Scammers will try to reach you through email, text message or over the phone, and ask for your personal details such as bank account details, internet banking password or offering you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details.
Dear tellows fellows,
as you might remember, we have posted an article about fake technical support scam in the beginning of last August to warn you of the rising issue of a Microsoft scam. Microsoft has also released several statements on their official website to warn people about this fraud. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop scammers from finding other ways to trick people.
Recently, we found out that many fake tech support scammers have been using another method to deceive Microsoft users. They take advantage of Microsoft TechNet portals and created over 3000 fake pages. The TechNet portal is usually used by Microsoft users to save documentations of products and images as well as to offer community forums for its users. Unfortunately, the scammers have found a way to use the subdomain of TechNet portal, gallery.technet.microsoft.com, in order to be displayed on Google. Although the pages are usually blank pages with error message, the scammers‘ purpose is to display their phone numbers on the headline of the pages. They mostly affiliate the tech support with Bitcoin or Coinbase Helpdesk. The problem has gotten bigger, as the fraudsters were able to rank quite high on google search and their fake pages were displayed on the first page when the users search for keywords such as „Helpdesk Microsoft“, „Helpdesk Coinbase“, etc.