Warning about Council Tax scams
COUNCIL TAX REFUND
The Council is aware that some customers have been contacted by e-mail claiming they are owed a council tax refund. The e-mails we know about, have been sent from either firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org . The e-mails ask customers to complete a refund request and provide their bank details. Although the e-mails appear to be genuine, its a scam.
The Council's clear advice to customers is to delete the e-mail.
INCORRECT COUNCIL TAX BAND
New Forest District Council, The Valuation Office Agency and Hampshire County Council Trading Standards, are warning council tax payers about individuals and companies that may be operating in the New Forest Area. They may telephone you or appear personally at your door.
The Council is aware that customers have been contacted by companies calling themselves Council Tax Claims Ltd, Council Tax Review Service and Claims for View or even saying they are calling from the Council.
Here are some examples of the tactics used to try and get you to part with your money:
- charging an up-front fee of around £70, sometimes the company will refer to this as a finder's fee and then not challenging your council tax band on your behalf;
- insisting you are definitely in the wrong band, when in fact your band is correct;
- saying they are from the local council or Valuation Office (VO) and asking for your bank details so they can make a refund. You may then find that money is taken from your account;
- claiming that the VO will charge you to challenge your band when you can do this for free;
- claiming that you must, by law, be represented by an agent to challenge your band when in fact anyone can do this;
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO AVOID FALLING VICTIM TO SCAMMERS
- remember that you can have your band checked free of charge by contacting the local Valuation Office. Their contact details are www.voa.gov.uk or telephone 03000 501501.
- inform the police if you believe that anyone is impersonating staff from your local council or the VOA or if a cold caller refuses to leave your home.
- contact your local Trading Standards Service on 03454 040506 if you feel you have been the victim of a council tax scam.
THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO
- don't give your bank details to anyone that contacts you by phone or who calls in person.
- don't let anyone into your home without first seeing appropriate identification.
- don't feel under pressure from a cold-caller to pay an immediate up-front fee. Take the time you need to think about it. What's the rush?
- don't accept cold callers claims that your band is wrong, without first seeing evidence of what they are claiming. There is nothing wrong with being sceptical.
- don't speak to anyone who is reluctant to give you their company address or contact details.