I have for some time now been plagued by e-mails claiming to come from Companies House, they generally say that there is a problem with web filing to Companies House. Now, as happens at the time when I first received one of these e-mail I was about the time one of the companies I am a director of was filing it’s annual report with Companies House. At first glance the e-mail looked plausible (there is a sample below) and it had come to an e-mail address which I use for company business, but something just did feel right about it.
First: it doesn’t mention the name of the company which is it supposedly referring to, just a submission number, real e-mails from Companies House always have the name of the company they are about in them.
Second: it had an attached zip file, which is odd because on the Companies House website where you can make your companies annual return by web filing, it says that you can download a pdf of the report. Confirmation e-mails from Companies House never have attachments.
Thirdly: while I am a director, I wasn’t the Company Secretary, and I would expect the Companies House to communicate with the Company Secretary in the first instance.
Fourthly: all the companies of which I am a member of the board, are registered in Scotland. Therefore, I would expect any correspondence in connection with these companies to use Companies House Edinburgh address.
Here is the test of the latest version e-mail, which I received this morning:
The submission number is: 2768706
For more details please check attached file.
Please quote this number in any communications with Companies House.
All Web Filed documents are available to view / download for 10 days after their original submission. However it is not possible to view copies of accounts that were downloaded as templates.
Companies House Executive Agency may use information it holds to prevent and detect fraud. We may also share such information, for the same purpose,
with other Organizations that handle public funds.
If you have any queries please contact the Companies House Contact Centre on +44 (0)303 1234 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgK
Note: This email was sent from a notification-only email address which cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply directly to this message.
4 Abbey Orchard Street
Tel +44 (0)303 1234 500
My suspicions aroused, I took a look at the full header of the email which immediately confirmed my suspicions, the return address and the message ID which not for Companies House, so it was obviously spam. I then decided to take Companies House advice on dealing with unsolicited/phishing e-mail, forwarding a copy of the offending e-mail to email@example.com as they suggest. This resulted in an immediate e-mail from my own system telling me that it had “received a message, apparently originating from you, which contains the “Mal/DrodZp-A” virus/malware. This message has not been delivered onwards to the recipients.” This was obviously caused by the attached zip file which had aroused my suspicions in the first place.
The lesson of this story is be wary of unexpected e-mails from Companies House, even if they look genuine, don’t open attachments or follow links in the body of the e-mail until you have checked that it is actually from the sender which claims to have come from. As a last line of defence always make sure that your anti virus software is up to date.