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Beware of telephone scams from people claiming to be from the HMRC.

Police are urging members of the public to protect themselves against fraudsters who claim to represent HMRC and trick them into making a bogus payment. 

The warning comes after more than a dozen reports were made to police on Friday 16 March, where residents in the Holywood and Bangor areas said they had received calls from fraudsters claiming to be from the HMRC. 

Chief Inspector John Wilson said: “Thankfully, at this time, there have been no reports of any financial loss being suffered by any of the victims targeted in any of these calls.

“While the reports made to police yesterday show this type of activity is taking place over the phone, I would urge people to be mindful that victims can be contacted in a variety of methods.

“Therefore, I am urging members of the public to always err on the side of caution with any text, call, email or letter asking for payment or personal details in order to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins or supply a holiday, giveaway or service. 

“In some instances reported, the fraudsters ask for payment in iTunes gift card voucher codes because they can be easily redeemed and easily sold on. The scammers don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back of their card over the phone. In other instances, victims are told they owe money and if they don’t pay the money they could be arrested. 

“HMRC will never contact you by telephone and ask for payment of tax arrears by iTunes vouchers or similar payment methods.

“Scammers are inventive and can be very convincing, but each scam is designed to tempt you to drop your guard. If you are at all suspicious about a call that you receive, hang up and phone the organisation that the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally, make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line.

“If you have received a call of this kind, or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website:

 www.actionfraud.police.uk 

“or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.”