Just got a call from someone claiming to be HMRC. At 8:15pm.
Obviously I was very surprised by this, and rather suspicious. He said we'd have to go through some security questions, and he asked me for my full name, which I gave, but when he asked me for my date of birth I asked him to tell me who he was again.
He said it was an experiment they were doing, to phone people instead of writing, to try to get them to renew their Tax Credits earlier. (I always end up doing ours at the end of January). I explained that OH is self-employed so we always have to wait for the figures to come back from the accountant. I also said that I get an endless stream of calls trying to sell me things, and that I hadn't even realised that HMRC phoned people. He then said - perfectly pleasantly - that if I'm not comfortable about answering security questions he can write instead, so I said I thought that would be preferable.
So now I'm worried: If this is genuine, why have they picked me? Do they have some reason to believe that our claim needs looking into in more depth? I don't think so, but who knows what they think?
Also, the name he gave me does exist as a person who works for HMRC - a person of that name has written various papers on Pensions provision. But then he would presumably be too senior to be phoning random claimants in the evening?
I don't need this. I have the oldest coming up to his 'A' levels, and his project documentation is due in in two weeks, which he needs help with interpreting what they're asking for; I have to do his Student Finance application in the next week or two, and I have to decided which year's income to put in (standard is 2011/12, ie the one I declared at the end of January) because it depends on whether you expect your income to go down, which ours will once the oldest leaves full-time (non-higher) education (we'll lost the child benefit and his portion of the tax credits). I have to do the research for his university accommodation because apparently there's a box about requirements due to disability. I think he should put in that he really needs a single room, but I'm worried that some idiot is going to think that a student with social issues would benefit from sharing a room.
I have the middle one coming up to his GCSEs, and he's worried about achieving the 'B' in English which he needs to get into the Sixth Form.
I have the youngest coming up to end-of-year (really!) exams in two weeks and while there's a case for saying they don't seem that important by comparison, they are important to him and I must take them seriously.
I have the Department of Work & Pensions on my back because when we did the Probate last year for OH's elderly auntie, it turns out that (a) she had a lot more cash than they would expect of someone on Pensions Credit and (b) she failed to declare one of her bank accounts so she had slightly more money than they thought she did when they decided what to pay her. So we could be in for paying back thousands. It's all sitting in a separate administrator's bank account but even so, that's money we hoped to have available for supporting three boys through university.
So I really don't need to be worrying about answering the phone in case it's HMRC trying to cut the benefits bill by asking people trick questions.