Reporting Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fraud and being alert to scams
20 April 2020
Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis is allowing fraudsters to thrive, whether that be through abuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or through creating scams that target the most vulnerable during these unprecedented times.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fraud
HMRC has appealed to employees to encourage them to report their concerns if they are in any way worried that an employer is abusing the CJRS.
The CJRS forms part of a collective national effort to protect people’s jobs, and employees can play a crucial role by reporting fraudulent claims to HMRC. Fraudulent claims put the provision of public services and protection of livelihoods at risk. The money has been generated by UK taxpayers and should not be abused by unscrupulous employers.
Employees should also report their employers if they are claiming on their behalf and not paying them what they’re entitled to. Similarly, if employers are asking employees to work while they’re on furlough or attempting to make backdated claims that include periods in which the employee was working, this should also be reported.
There is also a reminder in employer guidance that HMRC will check claims that are made through the scheme, and that payments may be withheld if the claim is based on dishonest or inaccurate information or found to be fraudulent. Employers will also be required to repay the amounts in full if fraud is detected at a later date.
Texts and emails are being circulated which offer recipients false financial support or tax refunds, sometimes threatening them with arrest if they don’t pay tax which they supposedly owe immediately. Scammers are also targeting people through phone calls.
HMRC has published a wealth of information to protect people from these scams, including how to recognise genuine HMRC contact, how to avoid and report scams and examples of phishing emails and bogus HMRC contact. Any emails purporting to be from HMRC that look suspicious should be forwarded on to firstname.lastname@example.org, and any dubious text messages sent to 60599.
Individuals who are victims of scams should contact their bank as soon as possible, and report it to Action Fraud.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.