Don’t be drawn in by Council Tax scammers

Residents are being warned to be wary of Council Tax scams that may be prevalent in the next few weeks as bills start to be delivered to households.

The offer to reduce your Council Tax banding, reduce your monthly payments or claim money back for a small fee may sound enticing, but it's more than likely that you have been contacted by a scammer who is only interested in getting money or your bank details out of you.

One scam currently in operation that has been highlighted to South Somerset District Council asks for you to confirm your bank details in an email to receive a refund for your previous years Council Tax bill. The email even gives a telephone number to call which is a direct line to the Council Tax Team at Oldham Council, making it appear even more genuine.

There are key things to check when you receive communication about Council Tax. The following might help you to identify whether you are being scammed:

  • When writing to you, South Somerset District Council will address the letter directly to you rather than to 'the occupier' or 'sir/madam';
  • We will never ask for your bank account details on the phone or via email, to refund overpaid council tax.

Many scams involve asking for a fee to see if your Council Tax banding can be lowered. This is a service that can be done for free. Council Tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency and can only be changed under certain conditions. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals.

Ian Potter, Revenues Manager at South Somerset District Council said, "Many scams are highlighted to the Council and we try to inform residents when they are brought to our attention because ultimately it's you, the resident, who may lose out.

"If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and need help, speak with a member of the Council Tax Team on 01935 462462 who will be able to offer help and advice."

Councillor Peter Seib, Portfolio Holder for Finance & Legal Services added, "If you are due a refund of overpaid Council Tax we will do this automatically. You can check your Council Tax band with the Valuation Office for free. In either case don't let a scammer con you."

If you are unsure of who you are talking to and instinct tells you something is not quite right, hang up, call 01935 462462 and check with a customer advisor whether the name of the person who called you really does exist.

If you have given over personal details, we would advise you to call the Police straight away on 101 and report the matter as an identity theft scam. The Police will also direct you to the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.

 Issued date: Saturday 11 March 2017