POLICE are warning shoppers to be vigilant about gift card scams that are conning residents out of millions of pounds.

North Yorkshire Police have issued the warning as new figures show that £6.5 million is lost to gift card fraud in the UK.

The force is highlighting a new scam which involves fraudsters claiming to be from well-known organisations including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Fraudsters are then tricking victims into making payments using iTunes gift cards.

Crooks are using online store gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on.

The fraudsters don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and will instead use tactics to persuade victims to purchase gift cards in large amounts and read out the serial code on the back over the phone.

This problem is not just linked to iTunes gift cards and more recently, Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, has seen a spike in fraudsters requesting Steam Cards as a way to gain upfront fees from unsuspecting victims.

In some cases fraudsters may refer to gift cards, including App Store and iTunes gift cards as ‘payment cards’ as a way to explain or legitimise this payment method.

A national campaign has been launched to raise awareness of gift card fraud and it is being supported by North Yorkshire Police

Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, head of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Fraud and Economic Crime Unit said: “Fraudsters use a range of tactics to target people, especially the elderly and vulnerable.

“A common trick they use is to convince victims into making payments for taxes, bills and fees using gift cards or vouchers.

“Remember, no genuine organisation will ask you to make payments such as these using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher.

“If you receive a call of this nature hang up the phone and end the conversation.

“If you are still in doubt, contact someone you know and trust such as relative, friend or neighbour for a second opinion.”

Instances of non-emergency fraud can be reported to police on 101 or report it to Action Fraud by visiting actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

More advice on how to keep safe from fraud can be found at northyorkshire.police.uk/fraud