Be aware of council tax con

Published: Monday, June 24, 2019

Residents are being warned to watch out for scammers claiming to be able to secure you a council tax refund – but instead stealing people’s personal information and bank details.

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The Local Government Association is warning of a ‘barrage’ of council tax scams.

Fraudsters are contacting residents by text, email and phone to con them out of money and access personal bank details.

The scammers tell people they have paid too much council tax and are due a refund which they offer to claim on their behalf for a fee. A similar scam demands payment for council tax arrears.

Another scam aims to convince people their property is in the wrong council tax band and offers to secure a refund, again in return for a payment – even though a council tax band reassessment is available for free.

Fees of £150 have been quoted in the scams which falsely claim to be from local councils or the Valuation Office Agency in a bid to appear official and trick people into falling victim to them. Some also use the Government’s GOV.UK branding in text messages and emails in a bid to appear more convincing, and often include a link to a fake official-looking website to claim the refund.

Councils will never phone, text or email residents to ask for a payment to release a council tax refund or ask for personal bank details. Council tax valuation bands are decided by the Valuation Office Agency, not the council. Wandsworth’s council tax department is advising people who think their property may be in the wrong band that they have the right to appeal – there is no upfront fee payable. Find out more.

The council’s community safety department is urging people never to give their bank details to anyone who unexpectedly calls, emails or comes to their door and to report any suspected scam to Action Fraud.