Police Scotland is urging residents in Formartine to be aware of a string of scams that are taking place across the area asking people to make payments over the phone.
The scams ask for payments of various forms from tax bills and hospital payments, to debt collection and utility bills.
The scams are committed using many methods, including gift cards from iTunes, Google and other popular brands.
Local officers are encouraging residents in the area to discuss this issue with family members in a bid to prevent anyone else falling victim to this crime.
Sergeant Andy Sawers of the Formartine Community Policing Team told the Times: “Regardless of the reason for payment, the scams follow a certain formula.
“The victim receives a call instilling panic and urgency to make a payment by purchasing gift cards from the nearest supermarket or electrical store.
“They advise the victim that they will call back later to obtain payment for an outstanding debt or similar.
“Once the cards have been purchased, the victim is asked to pay by sharing the code on the back of the card with the caller over the phone,” he said.
Sergeant Sawers provided the following advice for residents: “As soon as a call asking for payment is received, ask questions, write down the replies and hang up.
“Obtain the caller’s full name, staff number, company name, contact number and the reason for their call.
“Advise the caller that you will contact the company directly and confirm these details.”
Sergeant Sawers continued: “They may try to panic you by giving you further false information.
“Or they may provide a number for you to call which will be a fraudulent number that will lead directly back to the fraudster.
“Often the number shown on your telephone can appear to be genuine but ignore this number as it will be have been generated by computer software.
“Once the victim has hung up, they can check for genuine business numbers on the internet or using official paperwork that they own.
“If victims think there is a possibility of a call being genuine, wait half-an-hour then phone the company the caller was alleging to be from but use a phone number from their website or correspondence and enquire if they were trying to contact you.”
Sergent Sawers added: “No bank or authorised business will ever ask you to provide passwords or personal information over the phone nor will they ask you to pay outstanding debt via gift vouchers or similar payments.
“It’s important to know that gift cards can be used only to purchase goods and services from the brand you have purchased.
“If you’re approached to use the cards for payment outside of these terms, you should immediately report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or Police Scotland on 101.”