Criminals targeting residents in council tax scam ‘barrage’

Criminals posing as council staff are targeting people across the country in a new wave of council tax scams offering bogus refunds or threatening fines. 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 either 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.

Top Tips:
• Anyone who receives an email, text message or phone call offering a council tax refund should not to give out any personal information, particularly bank account details, or debit or credit card details.
• You should delete the email or text, block the sender and make sure they do not reply or click on any links, the LGA said. Any such phone calls should be brought to an end as quickly as possible.
• Residents, who wish to have their council tax band assessed, can do so for free by contacting the Valuation Office Agency.

This information will have been supplied to residents with either a previous or current Council Tax bill.