A WARNING not to pay a tax bill using an iTunes gift card has been issued after fraudsters have been targeted Berkshire residents.
Thames Valley Police’s Action Fraud department said that there has been an increase in malicious calls and voicemails purporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The thieves are spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive victims telling them that their non-payment of tax or other duty, leaves them liable for prosecution or other legal proceedings.
Victims are told they can avoid this by arranging payment to be made immediately by methods such as bank transfer or by purchasing iTunes gift cards.
If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, sending bailiffs to the victim’s address or, in some cases, deportation.
Police warned: “Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact with the victim.
“In genuine cases, HMRC will initially make direct contact with you via post/letter and potentially follow up that letter with a phone call at a later date.
“If HMRC contact you via telephone they will quote the reference number on the initial letter you should have received. HMRC will not discuss something you are not already aware of, like a tax investigation, and will NOT demand immediate payment.”
Police advise residents to always question unsolicited requests for personal or financial information. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.
Legitimate organisations wouldn’t ask people to pay taxes, bills or fees using an iTunes gift card, or any other type of voucher.
Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force people to make a financial transaction on the spot.
And there is a call to report any ‘phishing’ attempts. Anyone receiving a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, can report this as phishing to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.