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Scam Busters

Attempted fraud by criminals claiming businesses owe money or are entitled to tax refunds has increased during the coronavirus crisis. Fortunately, there are some simple steps businesses can follow to identify fraudulent communication.

No matter how many times we are told by the tax authorities that they never send emails or text messages requiring customers to send personal information via email, text or pop-up windows, the mere mention of the words ‘refund’ or ‘investigation’ are enough to make even the most suspicious individual think twice.

Of course, the scammers know that – which is why they want us to believe we have either underpaid or overpaid our taxes. The former approach is possibly more dangerous because it will be quickly followed by a request for credit/debit card or bank account details.

Words of warning

It is easy to spot a fake email or text when it has obvious spelling mistakes or looks like it was written by someone for whom English is not their first language. In some cases the sender of the email will claim to be working for the revenue or some other foreign tax authority.

But fraudsters have become more sophisticated, realising that if they send a message that appears legitimate there will be those who assume it is genuine. These texts often include links to a ‘validation’ screen which the recipient is asked to complete in order to receive their ‘refund’.

The best thing to do when you receive a suspicious email or text claiming to come from Revenue is to delete it. If you have shared any sensitive financial information with a suspected fraudster you should contact your bank or credit card company immediately to inform them of the fraud and also inform the Gardai.

Cold call

In some cases the scammers will call, which is more intimidating. The caller will usually claim that you need to pay an outstanding bill immediately or face criminal proceedings, or that they need some personal details to verify your identity.

The caller may sound genuine, but Revenue would ever ask you to reveal details of a credit/debit card or bank account over the phone.

Sophisticated scammers can make it look as if they are ringing from a genuine number. If you receive a call claiming to come from Revenue you should never disclose any personal financial information no matter what the caller says.

Links to fraud

Last year Revenue wrote to several thousand taxpayers to inform them that personal details held in the user profile of their Revenue myAccount may have been accessed by fraudsters.

The problem was caused by people clicking on a link in a text sent by fraudsters which purported to be the Revenue myAccount log-in screen. In some cases the victims had revealed their PPSN, date of birth and/or myAccount password, which could potentially be used to access the bank account details recorded with Revenue.

If you want the check the progress of a refund you should contact your local Revenue office. A quick check of a cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud will tell you whether or not it has been paid – and will also help you submit accurate returns.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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