How to spot an HMRC tax scam

You’re expecting a tax refund, when an email from HMRC pops into your inbox giving you the good news. All you need to do is click on a link to access the Pounds you’re due. Sounds easy enough, but is it genuine? We look at how you can spot an HMRC tax scam immediately.


While fraudulent HMRC emails have been common for years, scammers have recently begun using text messages too. Caught up in the excitement of a possible tax refund, it’s easy to overlook the tell-tale signs of a scam, especially as HMRC scam emails often contain the taxman’s logo and official-style reference numbers.

How you can tell that an HMRC email is a fake

Quite simply, HMRC never contacts customers who are due a refund by email. If you are due a refund, you will receive a letter by post.

However, if you receive an email and you’re convinced it’s legitimate, look out for the following:

  • Improper use of English, including spelling and grammar errors
  • Any email address not ending in
  • An email starting “Dear Taxpayer” or any other wording not using your name
  • An email asking you to click on a link or open an attachment
  • An email asking you to provide your bank details

It’s worth knowing that HMRC never contacts taxpayers about refunds by telephone, and never uses external companies regarding refunds.

What to do if you receive a fraudulent email

If you receive a fraudulent email regarding your tax refund, send it to HMRC for investigation before deleting it. Forward all suspicious emails to HMRC at

Want to check if you’re due a tax refund? Our free online calculator will give you an idea of what you are due, in seconds.