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Scammers take advantage of businesses ignorance on EU VAT rules

Aug 15, 2017

Businesses across the UK are being targeted by scammers who are charging them to update companies VAT registration numbers online, when it is not necessary.

Typically businesses are told that as part of changes to EU legislation, which obligates all companies to provide their VAT registration numbers on ‘various’ documents since 2010, they as a company are required to update their database.

This service is offered for free with an option to update information past the basic entry, which may incur a cost. What many businesses haven’t realised is that they are then invoiced for £797 plus VAT once the information is submitted.

The way in which the letter is worded makes clear that they are not affiliated with a public authority or any official entity, but suggests that the update is a necessary requirement, when it is not.

Further investigation on the company’s website reveals that the information is not obligatory and that it acts as a form of digital advertising for businesses.

Online research shows that similar offers made to a number of companies have been sent as far back as 2013, with businesses getting caught out when they have sent information back, only to receive an invoice at a later date.

Although, not listed as an official phishing scam on the HM Revenue & Customs website, businesses are being warned to be on the lookout for similar offers.

A number of local councils have already warned businesses about the scam and MPs have previously asked the treasury to investigate, but as of yet the scammers continue to target businesses in the UK.

Source: HMRC Phishing Examples

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