There has been an increase of reports of malicious calls from fraudsters claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax collectors.
An Action Fraud spokesman said: “Fraudsters are spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive their victims over the phone.
“The fraudsters state that as a result of the victim’s non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable for prosecution or other legal proceedings in order to settle the balance.
“The fraudsters suggest victims 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.”
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.
When the money is paid the fraudsters sever all contact with the victim.
In genuine cases, HMRC will initially make direct contact with people via post/letter and potentially follow up that letter with a phone call at a later date, said Action Fraud.
HMRC will not demand immediate payment.
The spokesman added: “Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information.
“Just because someone knows your basic details - such as your name and contact details - it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.
Legitimate organisations wouldn’t ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using an iTunes gift card, or any other type of voucher. If you’re contacted by anyone that asks you to do this, you’re likely the target of a scam.”