There have been reports of a cold calling scam where the caller claims to be calling from HMRC., say Trading Standards at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

“The caller states that you have underpaid tax and imminent court action is threatened unless the outstanding amount is paid immediately over the phone.

“In some cases the caller has asked for payment to be made by money transfer or by purchasing gift cards (the consumer is asked to give the gift card numbers to the caller).”

A spokesperson said: "Clearly we are concerned that this scam can cause distress and anxiety for elderly or vulnerable residents as the caller sounds official and depicts the matter as serious and urgent.

“As with all cold calls we warn that you should not give personal details or banking information over the phone to unverified callers,

HMRC will never telephone you regarding tax.

“We also advise that residents register their phone numbers with the Telephone Preference Service along with any call blocking service which their telephone service providers operate.

”After intervention from the regulator The Office for Communications, OFCOM, the majority of telephone providers have now  introduced nuisance calls blocking services.

“Some of these, such as the BT Call Protect are provided free to the user.

“In cases where vulnerable consumers are harassed by telephone cold callers we would suggest purchasing robust call blocking technology."

Scam calls can be reported to CNES Trading Standards on 01851 822694.