HMRC refund scam

A little warning: there seems to a mighty believable HMRC tax refund scam doing the rounds at present: they contact you by text to tell you you have a refund ready, then direct you to a fake website where they then steal all of your details.

The reasons why it’s quite believable are that the text seems to come from the actual number HMRC sent self-assessment tax reminders to me on early this year. So, either that number has been hacked or bought since, or the scam artists responsible for this whole thing have been the ones sending the legitimate warnings, which means they’ve been playing a very long game, and that’s kind of impressive. The website (at this address: is also pretty flawless in execution: if you’re familiar with the HMRC site there is little to differentiate it.

However, with just a bit more thought you can recognise it as a scam for these reasons:

1) I’d expect the sender of the text, if they know the exact amount of my rebate, to know whether I am a ‘sir’ or a ‘madam’.

2) I’d also expect them to know how to spell ‘madam’.

(2.5 – just realised also that ‘the tax year 2016’ isn’t an actual tax year – it should say ‘2015-2016’)

3) the website seems passable but the telltale details are there in the footer: if you click any of these links (rye presence of which do make the site look very legit), it will simply bring you back to the top of the page instead of to where it said it would take you.

4) to get this apparent rebate you apparently have to give them *every single bit of your most important identification and bank details*. Obviously, real HMRC would ask you to log in with your 13 digit code that they send you when you create an account to manage your taxes online.

5) if you’re due a rebate, they normally tell you on completion of your tax return, although I guess that’s only for self-assessed taxes, so here’s who they’re clearly aiming to hook: cash-strapped PAYE users who have no experience managing their own taxes. Which is also what makes this so utterly sick and wrong, because they have the least and have therefore the most to lose.

Share and protect 😀

For more info on scams visit the Which consumer rights website.


My First Christmas Present From Him, or, a testament to true love

Here’s what my partner…fiancee…other half got me for Christmas. He couldn’t wait any longer to give it to me.

My first instinct was to think, thank goodness we found eachother.

My second instinct was: EEEEeeeeeeEEEWWWWWWWWWWW!


For the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a crawling-action zombie!

(If you don’t know what this is, I suggest you check out The Walking Dead tv series or graphic novel.)

Busy June 3: being ill (again)

3) Being ill. No, I’m not going to write about that really, but I am convinced that my out-of-character ill health *just might* have something to do with the 4.30am starts, 4-hour roundabout commutes, sitting on a cold platform at Clapham when they can’t be arsed to open the waiting room doors at the right time, then working til midnight most days and eating…well, you work out what kind of diet is manageable on that schedule.

Funnily enough, science apparently agrees with me. Tiredness now leads to obesity (I’ve definitely gone up a dress size) and lack of sleep and good food leads to lowered immune systems. Despite the fact that I trekked through Morocco with 15 students in April, my body’s a right old mess.

That’s right, this was me only three months ago. *sigh*

Luckily, my commute is over: from next year, I’m full-time teaching, which means I’m moving from London to Portsmouth. I’m incredibly excited about this, as it means I get views like this at the end of my road:

The Warrior
The Warrior, and one of the many excellent sunsets, at the bottom of my road.
Sally Port
Sally Port, Spice Island: the best place to get a pint of cider and some fish and chips and wave at boats.

I know this to be true: I took these when I last lived there. Hurrah!

The only problem now I have is managing my workload, but I’m sure I’ll think of something…

Most depressing week of the year

You may have gathered that I have several jobs – aside from working from home, I teach three days a week in Hants, commuting in at 5.30am and returning around 8pm, unless, as this week, there’s parents evening. I’m told it sounds mad, but it’s really a joy, mostly.

I like my life, and it’s pretty far removed from the real evils of the world, for which I thank my lucky stars.

This week however, my immediate world went MAD: here’s the story in FB status updates… As is traditional, it’s all hilarious in hindsight, except that it really, really isn’t.

Sunday at 4:20pm : Watching Arsenal. Preparing for disappointment.

Sunday at 5:49pm : No need to worry about Arsenal’s poor performance when the guys right in front of you in the pub start LAMPING EACH OTHER WITH CHAIRS.

Monday at 11:29am : Oh my GOD this is what was happening down the road the other Friday night. We have famous yet violent neighbours!

Monday at 3:43pm : And the police tape down the end of my road at the entrance to the park up the road? RAPE. Horrific. I can see mums walking their children to school through it now as I walk to work. My road has doubled its crime rate in a weekend.

Tuesday at 3:20pm : Boyfriend robbed on way to Paddington. If anyone asks, this weekend didn’t happen.

Tuesday at 4:53pm : Serious question: get a rape alarm yes, but get one that makes a very loud noise like an alarm, or get one that screams like a woman with the volume of a jackhammer?

Tuesday at 6:41pm : I am on my way home and I am armed with a stout umbrella and an empty thermos. Look out!

Wednesday at 8:17pm : This has been the most horribly dramatic week: police stabbings; nearby rapes; bar-room brawls; broken windows; ingenious bag theft; and now a mysterious moaning and crying rugby-shirted (in this weather?) Indian man (I think it was Gujarati?) on my train who jumped off at Liphook before he could be asked if he was alright.
I fear ’tis the end of days.

Thursday at 8.57pm : My train is cancelled. All the other trains are late. Not entirely sure I’ll be getting home tonight.

Thursday at 9.35pm : Not getting home. Some poor bugger went under a train at Liss at 5.30. Then another poor bugger went under a train at Portsmouth at 8.

F*** me. When they said Jan 16th was the most depressing week of the year they were a week out.

(Thanks to the SWTrains helpline man, who also wasn’t getting home tonight, for actually telling me what had happened after National Rail Enquiries told me gibberish, possibly even all the way from India. Thanks  to him for advising that I should go stay with a friend rather than waiting and possibly being stranded at the station, and my lovely colleague for putting me up at the last minute.)

Friday at 8.08am : Yes, it wasn’t their fault, but, after having been stranded overnight in Petersfield, SW trains wouldn’t honour yesterday’s return ticket, but made me buy a new ticket and fill out an ‘Application’ for a refund. It was that or rely on the pity of the ticket inspector on each train, who was, apparently, ‘in charge’ (“I can’t tell the ticket inspector what to do now, can I ?!” said *the man selling the tickets*‘)

When this happened in Bristol, they gave me a ticket gratis.
Ergo, Bristol > Petersfield.

They’re both SWTrains.

Friday at 10.30am: So the refund form I got in Petersfield is no good at Brentford. Brentford want me to fill in a complaint form. Petersfield said I didn’t need to. The man at Brentford is apparently now ‘in charge’.

Much confusion. I ask if he can call Petersfield. “That would be impossible”. I add the form to my pile and fill it out. I am eyeballed. He seems cross at Petersfield, and doesn’t seem to care that they dealt well in a difficult situation.

After officiously taking back the stapler to show me how to do it (there’s a ‘special way’, apparently, to staple tickets to a form), the man shows me how then to put all my tickets in the envelope. Apparently I need to send the form myself now. Petersfield said I didn’t have to do that.

‘Fine’, I say, ‘now please give me the postage.’

He finally agrees to send it for me. Petersfield said he’d do that. 😉

Then I take out last week’s delayed-train claim tickets. ‘I think I’ll have another envelope please…’

(I feel like a bad person. But, I would have sent last week’s delayed-train claim tickets back last week…if Petersfield hadn’t run out of complaint forms. )

This has been a terribly horrible week for a lot of people, and really only just a bit worrying and trying for me. My heart goes out to those who were seriously affected by the serious stories above. My rail dramas pale in comparison – all I had to deal with was a long, cold sit at the station and a night on a floor, I just hate that it’s normal for commuters to get the pointy end of the whippy stick on a regular basis. Thanks to those in the ‘passenger industry’ who do actually help, and probably have to deal with weeks like this on a regular basis.

I hope this week’s a one-off. If the world does end though, don’t say I didn’t warn you. By my reckoning, it’ll be Saturday, so keep an eye out. I won’t be leaving the house.

the sea, the sea

I am on my way home to London, in the noisiest train carriage possible, having lost the ticket that allows me my reserved seat in the Quiet carriage and has forced me to buy a new ticket at 1.5 times the cost of my original train journey. Ironically, I still have the reservation ticket. This counts for nothing.

This is all very upsetting, especially as just the other day I was with my partner at the blustery, beautiful seaside. We only get to see eachother for a few days at a time, and we both live in big cities, so, despite it being January, ‘by the sea’ was the place to be. Unfortunately for me, the crowd of drunken blokes currently shouting about how much they *love* their friends and would do *anything* for them because they *love them so much* and *girls come and go* have decided that the corridor outside this carriage is the place to be, but they keep accidentally opening and slamming the automatic carriage door, which is giving me a headache.

Thus, I shall suck in my wobbly lower lip and think back, back, back to the calm of the days before…

Here’s a ‘shopped image made from an iPhone photo taken from the moving train window on the way to the sea. To match its sunken Subject, the image has had grungey texture applied, with tones of sepia to evoke the romance of treasure maps, and a light tilt-shift effect to bring focus to the centre and create a dreamy quality. Ahhhhhhhhhh…….. feel better now……


…and breathe….and breathe…

…and, as if by magic, my train has deposited the revellers at Swindon, and all is quiet again.