Residents warned of council tax scam

Published: Friday 22nd August 14

Town hall finance chiefs have issued a fresh warning to residents that fraudsters could be using a sophisticated council tax scam to try and steal from them.

Con-artists are said to be using the promise of council tax rebates to obtain residents' bank details and other sensitive personal information. Armed with this important data, the fraudsters are then able to empty their victim's bank accounts.

According to local government colleagues in neighbouring boroughs where the scammers have begun targeting residents, the latest tactic is to telephone householders and masquerade as council tax officials.

Residents are either told they have paid too much council tax and are entitled to a rebate, or that they have not paid enough and need to top up their payments. 

In both scenarios, the caller asks for bank account details and other sensitive personal information like a date of birth.

Reports have also been received that the same gang of criminals may be using a fake email address to try and swindle residents.

The email address they are using resembles a local authority one - but is in fact completely bogus.

Now Wandsworth Council is urging local people to be on their guard against the confidence tricksters and to also report any similar incidents.

The council's director of finance Chris Buss said: “These approaches are a complete and utter con. People should not be taken in by them – and they should never give any sensitive personal information like bank account details or their date of birth to people who ring up out of the blue.

"No genuine town hall employee would ever make such a call and it would simply not be necessary for us to have your bank account details for this purpose.

"My advice to anyone who gets these calls is to simply hang up straight away - and if they get an email asking for this information they should ignore it."

Anyone receiving this type of approach is strongly advised to report the matter to Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud reporting centre on 0300 123 2040 or via its website at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

They can also report it to the Met Police’s 'Fraud Alert' website. This is designed to equip the public with the tools they need to protect themselves against con artists.

It is regularly updated with information about the latest tricks and scams and contains tips and advice on how to avoid being swindled by fraudsters. For more information about how to stay one step ahead of the criminals visit www.met.police.uk/advice-and-information/fraud. To report a fraud or a scam log on to https://www.met.police.uk/report/fraud.

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