Posts tagged ‘Correspondence’

In the past few days, with the complete mayhem caused by HMRC’s PAYE coding fiasco , clients of ours have received some very strange calls apparently from HMRC asking for payroll references and other data that we know they already have on their records, so please be wary of all unsolicited emails and phonecalls purporting to be from the Tax Office.

Too good to be true

Of course, no one wants to pay more tax than they should, so being told you are due a refund will come as good news.

In some cases, it may seem too good to be true – and that’s because it is.

If you receive a telephone call or an email from someone at HM Revenue & Customs  (HMRC) informing you of a tax refund then the person on the other end of the line is not the taxman but a criminal “phishing” for your bank account details.

HMRC has reported an alarming increase in the number of people being targeted in this way, with a record 83,000 phishing attempts reported in one month alone.

Written Correspondence

In some cases, letters are sent out purporting to be from external companies acting on behalf of HMRC and beginning with a sentence such as “we have reviewed your tax return and our calculations of your last year’s accounts show a tax refund of XXXX is due”. The letter will give a specific figure which the victim is supposedly due.

Phishing  and identity fraud

The thieves ask for bank details in order to pay in the non-existent refund. However, they then use this information to try to take money from the victim’s account.

Victims not only risk having their accounts emptied, but their details could also be sold on to other criminal gangs who may target them further.

Tax office communication policy

HMRC does not contact customers who are due a tax refund by telephone or email. It always writes to them directly, without using any external companies.

Advice

Anyone who receives a telephone call from someone offering them a tax refund should not give out any information to the caller but report it to the police immediately. Likewise, they should not reply to emails but forward them on to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

If you have already responded to a telephone call, email or letter and think you may have been the victim of a scam then you should contact your bank or card issuer as soon as possible.

HMRC Update – September 2010

An email from “HMRC Online Services – test@test.com’ is being issued, stating the recipient has one new alert message and should log in to their Online Account to read it.  The link in the email directs you to a fraudulent website where personal data is requested.  If you receive this notification, please forward it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Friendly, approachable, reliable professionals

At George Hay, we are experienced in all areas of taxation and can advise you on whether a genuine tax refund is due. If you are in any doubt about any communications you have received regarding a refund, please speak to us.

Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If like me, you receive a huge amount of emails each day (and night!) these clear tips from my friend, customer and loyal twitterbuddy, Heather Townsend will help you to manage the daily deluge of correspondence.

Set times of the day when you will look at and deal with your e-mail

Outside of these times, switch off your e-mail and e-mail notifications. For example, at three points in the day, dedicate 30 minutes to checking and actioning all your e-mails in these times

Set up e-mail rules

Mail rules are great for auto-sorting out your mail, before it arrives in your inbox. For example, you can set up a folder for each of your regular e-mails, for example monthly recurring invoices. Then set up the rule that puts the e-mail into the right folder – for example, a monthly recurring invoice could go into a folder called ‘invoices to process’. You can even put follow up flags on these rules, so that, say for example, any e-mail from your most important client was flagged to be dealt with by you that day.

Unsubscribe to newsletters

Unless you read the newsletter, unsubscribe to them. If you haven’t signed up to the newsletter, then mark as spam, and if you have the opportunity report them as unsolicited e-mail. E-mail marketing clients such as constant contact, do allow you to report unsolicited e-mail.

Use a good spam filter

Do invest in a good spam filter. Microsoft Outlook’s spam filter is good at giving you false positives – so aim to use an additional spam filter, so you can turn off Outlook’s in-built spam filter.

Action, file or delete immediately

Double or even triple handling e-mail is what leads to personal inefficiency. Have as your mantra that you will only touch an e-mail once.

Set limits on amount in inbox

Get into the personal discipline of never letting your inbox get more than 10 e-mails in at the end of the day.

Use flags to follow up

Use the follow up flags. If you have an e-mail to action, mark it with a dated follow up flag. Then file it! In the morning, you can then sort all your e-mails by flags, and will get a list of the most urgent e-mails to be auctioned.

Archive your e-mail folders outside of the inbox folder

When you are creating folders to file your e-mail into after auctioning, Microsoft automatically suggests that you create sub-folders within your inbox. Make sure you create the folders outside of the inbox. This way, your computer performance wouldn’t be affected by Microsoft constantly scanning all the e-mails in the inbox.

Set up favourite folders that you access regularly

In the favourite folders box on Microsoft outlook, drag in the folders you use regularly. This way, you will be able to quickly find your most popular folders. You can even give the folders a number, e.g. “1 – clients”, so you most frequently accessed folders will be at the top of the list, regardless of where they would come in true alphabetical order.

For twitter users…

Turn off all notifications for new followers and direct messages. Use a twitter client, such as tweetdeck, to alert you to new direct messages and followers.


For more posts like this visit the blog of the infamous Efficiency Coach.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.