A warning about scams claiming to be from Inland Revenue
Inland Revenue have recently released a scam alert on their website, advising of the latest methods being employed by scammers to try and obtain customers' personal information.
The most common methods used by fraudsters to collect someone's personal information are e-mail, SMS (text message) and phone scams. These include phoning and claiming to be from Inland Revenue, or sending an e-mail or SMS that appears to come from Inland Revenue or a tax refund agency.
Phone and SMS scams
Scammers claiming to be from Inland Revenue are cold calling people to say they are being investigated for tax fraud. The scammer requests personal information, including the person's IRD number, before threatening them with legal action. In some cases people are told they must pay a debt urgently or risk facing jail time.
Some people have also reported scammers leaving voicemail messages stating they are subject to criminal action for tax fraud, and leaving a phone number for the person to return the call.
Fraudsters may also claim to be calling from Inland Revenue or a tax refund agency to offer you a refund. This may be on the condition that you:
- make an upfront direct payment to a bank account through a global money transfer provider
- make the transfer through a false website address, which they will give you while they're talking to you
- provide identity information to them
SMS scams may ask you to contact them on a fake Inland Revenue number instead of calling you directly.
Criminals use e-mail scams known as phishing to get your personal information and money. They send out fraudulent e-mails with the Inland Revenue logo on them to thousands of customers every day, usually promising things such as tax refunds.
E-mail scams may include a website link which will direct you to a false webpage. This webpage will usually be a very good replica of the real thing. You may be asked to enter personal Inland Revenue information, eg your myIR Secure Online Services user ID and password. Clicking on the link in the e-mail may also trigger a virus to be downloaded onto your computer. Both of these actions can result in the fraudster having access to your Inland Revenue information and other personal details.
|REMEMBER! Inland Revenue will never e-mail you to:
- notify you of a tax refund
- ask you for personal information, such as your myIR Secure Online Services account user ID and/or password
- ask you to enter personal information on a third party website
Here is IRD's webpage where they alert of the latest scams circulating, however be aware these are merely a small sampling and there are may be multitudes of variations to these.
So what can I do protect my identity and personal information?
There are a number of proactive steps you can undertake to keep yourself safe from scammers and identity thieves:
- Be careful sharing personal details on social media sites.
- Don't enter personal, credit card or bank account details on a website if you're not sure it's genuine. Check the website address - fraudsters can create replicas of real websites.
- Make sure you 'Logout' correctly after you've finished on a website such as online banking
- Keeps passwords and PINs safe and change them regularly.
- Lock your mailbox and collect your mail regularly.
- When moving house, contact important organisations to update your address and arrange for a mail redirection.
- Keep key documents that can be used to establish your identity in a safe and secure place.
- Shred or destroy mail that contains personal information before you throw it away. Consider getting your statements provided online - it's safer for you and better for the environment too.
- Check bank statements closely. Transactions you don't remember making can be a sign that someone is using your identity.
- Remember that legitimate businesses and organisations won't usually phone you for your personal details.
If someone claiming to be from an organisation calls you asking for:
ask for their name and number. Check with the organisation, using their publicly available 'contact us' number, to confirm the phone-call you received was genuine before returning the call.
- personal information
- account information, or
- credit card information
- Remove all personal information from electronic devices before you sell or dispose them. These include computers, phones and even iPods – any device that has ever held personal or credit card information.
- Make sure your electronic devices have the latest security updates.
- Make sure you log out correctly using the 'Logout' link once you have completed your online myIR activities.
- Inland Revenue offer voice ID as a service, which adds an extra layer of security to your account by using voice recognition software. To register for this service, call Inland Revenue on 0800 257 843 (make sure you have your IRD number handy when you call) or click here for more information.
Inland Revenue investigate, and take action on, reports of phishing scams, and will update their website as new scams alerts emerge.
If you receive a suspicious e-mail, SMS or phone call, contact Inland Revenue on firstname.lastname@example.org and include:
- the email received, or
- the number that the text message or phone number (CallerID) originated from
- any names and call-back numbers given by the text sender or phone caller
- details about the scam including:
- the amount of tax refund quoted
- the reference number
- the information requested, and
- any other relevant information
If you have been contacted by e-mail, text message or phone from someone claiming to be from Inland Revenue and you're unsure if it's legitimate, we urge you to contact us before taking any action or disclosing personal details. We are able to view information Inland Revenue hold on you and can confirm with you if any steps need to be taken.