June 30: wearing a party frock the second my back is turned

I received an email saying I was getting some money back from my taxes, a few hundred pounds. It asked me to send my bank details in and they would send the money to my account. I was immediately suspicious as I had received tax money back one time and they had just sent me a cheque. When I examined closer I could see it was a hoax. What mainly gave it away was grammar. It said: your tax_refund are now available. An extraneous underscore and an inability to accord the number of subject and verb. Next bit: We announce you. Inability to see that the verb ‘to announce’ takes an indirect object and perhaps also the use of a present simple rather than present continuous. Later in the text it said: these refund. Need I go on? But who knows? Maybe grammar is deemed unimportant these days. What also gave it away was the request that I send my bank details by 28/06 at the latest. This was already 28/06. I was pretty sure of the hoax, but I thought I’d go onto the HMRC web site. I did so. Here it said that HMRC used agencies to work for them to distribute and collect funds. This did not help matters, though I had already worked out that this was not a bona fide agency. I was reminded of the hole-in-the-wall cash distributors which before your transaction now tell you to flag up to the bank anything unusual that you notice about the machine. You then proceed with your transaction and are immediately confronted by an advert on-screen for a make of car or an insurance company or a brand of floor cleaner. Is this not unusual? In the wink of an eye the bank has forgotten what it told just you, like some goldfish in a bowel with its eight second memory. For HMRC it is the same thing. If you use intermediary agencies how can you keep control of the transparency of the presentation of communications? It is as if the august institutions of tax and finance suddenly strip off the pin-striped suit and don a party frock the second our back is turned. No wonder we get confused.


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