ADVICE has been issued after people across Merseyside have been targeted by fraudsters.

Merseyside Police and Action Fraud have issued advice after people had been told they needed to buy iTunes vouchers to settle tax debts.

On Thursday, January 11 a 77-year-old woman from Woolton had taken a call from someone falsely claiming to be from the HMRC saying she owed tax money.

The woman was told to buy an iTunes voucher of high value and return home where the voucher would be collected by someone calling at the house.

She was told if she didn't do this she would be taken to court.

A further report was received at around 3.35pm that a second elderly woman had received a similar phone call and had bought iTunes vouchers of a large value.

In both cases the calls appeared to be have been from the Manchester dialling code 0161 and the incidents were reported to police before the vouchers could be collected.

This scam to request buying iTunes vouchers is a recognised scam that has been used across the country and Action Fraud have issued advice on how to not be a victim of such crimes.

The organisation say that hundreds of cases have been reported to Action Fraud since May 2017 of fraudsters continually requesting victims to purchase Apple iTunes gift cards as a means of payment for HMRC.

Fraudsters are using iTunes gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and 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 over the phone to them.

Action Fraud has been working with Apple and HMRC to warn people about this type of fraud.

The fraudsters are using the following contact methods to defraud people:

• Voicemails: Fraudsters are leaving victims automated voicemails stating they owe HMRC unpaid taxes. When victims call back on the number provided, they are told that there is a warrant out for their arrest, unless they make payment via iTunes Vouchers

• Spoofed calls: Fraudsters are cold calling victims using a spoofed 0300 200 3300 number and convincing them that they owe unpaid tax to HMRC

• Text messages: Fraudsters are sending text messages requesting victims to urgently call back on the number provided. When victims call back, they are told that there is a case being built against them for an outstanding debt and they must pay immediately.

So how can you protect yourself?

• HMRC will never use text message to inform about a tax rebate or penalty

• HMRC will never ask for any payment in the form of iTunes Vouchers

• HMRC will only post out a P800 tax calculations, in circumstances of under or overpayment of taxes, if you’re employed or get a pension

• Payments using iTunes Vouchers may not be recoverable

• Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should not trust the number you see on your telephone display as proving the caller is genuinely calling from HMRC

• Be protective of giving other personal details such as National Insurance number, passport number and bank details over the telephone

• If you receive an unexpected call, where the caller requests an advance fee in the form of iTunes gift cards, end the call.