Beware fraudulent requests for information!
A number of our clients have received correspondence from a company in Hamburg, Germany, requesting confirmation of their VAT registration number for publication on a UK Corporate Portal. The letter claims that due to a change to the “EU Economic Package” the “UK Corporate Portal” is also required to update companies’ business data as a “basic entry”.
The letter includes a form for companies to check and sign to say their details are correct, if they wish their entry to be a “non-basic” entry. If they do this, the small print indicates a cost of £797 will be incurred by the school, for a minimum of three years. We are strongly warning schools against responding to such a letter as it could lead to an annual bill of almost £800 over a period of at least three years.
The HM Revenue and Customs website provides guidance on the letter, an extract is provided below:
‘Whilst this is not a phishing scam HMRC is aware of a letter which is being issued to customers which leads them to believe that they are required to provide details of their VAT registration number. This company is not connected to HMRC and you are under no obligation to reply.’
More details about phishing and bogus emails in relation to HMRC is available from the link below:
In a similar scheme, new Academies who have recently registered with Companies House may receive a letter from a company asking for a fee to be included in the “Register of Companies and Businesses”. This is not a required fee and schools should not pay the invoice.
As a general rule, any information not in the public domain should not be given out without independently checking with the required authority beforehand. This includes bank details, staff information, and reference numbers for VAT and payroll. Similarly, any changes requested to supplier details should be independently checked with a known contact at the supplier. If there is any doubt please give us a call to check.