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HMRC: Pay Your Tax Demand With An iTunes Gift Card

Um, no. It's a scam. Don't do it ...


It’s that time of year when I seem to be inundated with practice compliance forms. One of these is the firm’s professional indemnity insurance, and as my broker always seeks out the best policy for us there is yet another form to do ...

If HMRC supposedly sends you email with specific information in them, they're a scam!

If HMRC supposedly sends you email with specific information in them, they're a scam!

copyright: glebstock / 123rf stock photo (licensee)

For the first time ever, this form has a section headed up 'Cyber' and a page long list of questions. But what is it referring to? On investigation, it relates to cybersecurity insurance, or in other words, data breach liability.

"The FSB say that on average, a cyber crime incident costs a small business victim nearly £3,000!"

Additionally, it takes more than two days to recover from so imagine how much income a small business could lose as the victim of a cyberattack?

According to a recent report, the FSB published, a staggering seven million cyber crimes are committed against smaller businesses in the UK every year. That’s 19,000 every day!

The 2011 small business study by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 40% of all cyber attacks are directed at firms with fewer than 500 employees. Talking to a friend in the insurance world, he reckons that 10% of small businesses are inadequately insured.

So does that mean that, on average, 10% of my clients have no adequate cover? If this is so, I am now on a mission to change this statistic!

I am also on a mission to encourage all to have the proper IT support and contingency plans in place. To reassure all my own clients, I know that if we have a PC attacked there will be an effective lock down, the affected machine will be destroyed within minutes, back-up’s restored and the team back up and running the same day with data protected.

"I will not be paying any ransom money and will have no need to!"

So while you go away and consider calling my IT company and insurance broker (telephone numbers available on request) here are a few tips to get you more secure:

  • Install up-to-date anti-virus software. It may seem obvious, but you will be surprised at the amount of people who don’t!

  • Encrypt your laptop

  • Use strong passwords

  • Don’t open emails from unknown sources or unknown links embedded in emails. Only the other day a client had an email purporting to come from HMRC. It looked genuine except it referred to a date of 31/6/17

  • Document your contingency plan/incident report plan

  • Ensure any staff are aware of potential threats

  • Visit and read the UK Government's advisory website and stay informed

As far as HMRC is concerned, they may text or email you, but will never include links or personal information. So if they advise you that you have a refund of £123.45 (or any other specific amount) it is always a scam.

Your run of the mill hack is never as humerous as this is!

Fraudsters will come up with all sorts of imaginative ideas. In the April 2017 edition of Taxline, I read that fraudsters are tricking people into paying taxes using iTunes gift cards! Whatever next? Just be vigilant and keep safe.

Until next time ...

Business Godparent

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More about Roger Eddowes ...

Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.

Roger loves ‘getting his hands dirty’, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.

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