“WHATS Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money? quotes Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Thanks to some mean-minded, grasping, greedy and downright cruel individuals who designed a scam which is targeted at the most vulnerable and which is intended to take as
much money from them as possible, this could prove to be true.
Sadly, these unreconstructed Scrooges are frequently successful, which is why they come back time and time again. This year, we have heard of a particularly unpleasant and frightening scam which has been affecting our clients.
It comes in the form of a telephone call, purportedly from HMRC, which demands money for an outstanding tax bill which, if not paid instantly, will result in an arrest warrant
being triggered and the police arriving at your door to take you away in handcuffs.
There is an added insidious threat that if you hang up before the end of the call, the arrest warrant will instantly be triggered anyway. Please don’t fall for this!
The first thing to point out is that despite not being anyone’s favourite organisation, HMRC never demands money with menaces.
They don’t (and couldn’t legally) send the police to your home and if they want you to pay an outstanding bill (which you would already know about because you would have had
innumerable letters and reminders first) they would send an officer to your door to ask you for payment or, eventually, to take goods to the value of your debt. You shouldn’t mess about with HMRC, but they, are not such a monstrous organisation as
these fraudsters would lead you to believe.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a client in his 80s telephoned the office in a complete panic. He had received just such a call, but he thought to telephone us because he knew we had records of all his tax affairs and would be able to act on his behalf and to give him sound advice.
Another client was not so fortunate. She lives alone and was scammed of £4,000 on the first call. She thankfully rang us when they called her back to demand a further £5000
This group is obviously doing the rounds quite rapidly at the
moment, so it is very important that fear or uncertainty don’t leave you vulnerable to falling for their outrageous tricks.
Certainly, don’t react to any threats of arrest! Always check with your accountant first to make sure that you owe what you are asked for. If your tax return has been filed correctly each year, with all information truthfully and accurately given (either directly to HMRC or to your accountant), you are simply not going to be in any sort of legal danger.
So, if these beings do phone you, put the phone down swiftly, relax, make a cup of tea, take a deep both and call your accountant!
As for us, we “will honour Christmas in our hearts, and try to keep it all the year”! May you al1 have a peaceful and joyful Christmastide and may 2019 bring you all you hope for.