Council chiefs in St Helens are warning residents to be vigilant following a number of telephone scams asking for payments for debts or taxes using iTunes Gift Cards.
A number of residents have reported receiving automated voicemails from fraudsters pretending to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) asking for payment of debts or taxes using iTunes Gift Cards.
The scam appears to be targeting older people in St Helens and involves a recorded message being left, allegedly from HMRC, stating that HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against the individual and is going to sue them.
The recipient is asked to phone back and press ‘1’ to speak to the officer dealing with the case.
The fraudsters ask for payment in iTunes voucher codes as they can be easily redeemed or sold on. The scammers don’t need the actual card to redeem the value of the gift card and instead get victims to read out the serial code over the phone.
Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron, cabinet member for Green, Smart and Sustainable Borough, said: “HMRC will never contact you and ask for payment in this way.
“If you do receive such a voicemail do not under any circumstances reply to it, instead report the matter to Action Fraud.
“Residents should be on their guard when dealing with any doorstep callers, unsolicited phone calls and mail. They should listen to their gut feelings – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“Anyone who is concerned that they or someone they know is being scammed should get advice and warn others to help stop the spread of scams.”
The bogus phone calls are a new development by the scammers who regularly use email and texts posing as HMRC. These promise a tax rebate, with the conmen behind them trying to trick victims into handing over their bank account or credit card details.
Residents are reminded that HMRC never contacts customers who are due a tax rebate in this way – a letter is always sent through the post.
To report fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.