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Warning about Council Tax scams

COUNCIL TAX REFUND

We are warning residents to be on their guard against scams offering council tax refunds.

Scammers have sent e-mails and text messages to residents to inform them they are due a refund.   Different addresses we have been told about which have been used by scammers include;  InfoCouncilTaxOverpaymentAlert, TAXESOFFICE, Citycouncills.tax.gov and taxcouncil1.com/gov.  

To receive the alleged refund, customers are usually told to respond within three days and provide their bank details.  

Those who have received an email or text message are advised not to open it, or click on any links and to delete it immediately.  Also, never give out your bank details in these circumstances. 

 

THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHICH COULD INDICATE A SCAM

  • Its not from an official email address.  All of our e-mail addresses end with @nfdc.gov.uk and we include a contact telephone number

  • If you have not received any previous bills or communications from us to tell you your account is overpaid

  • If the e-mail or text message refers to paying an administration fee

  • If someone calls you out of the blue and is reluctant to give their contact details, company name or address. In those circumstances we would advise you to hang up immediately.

 

If you get an e-mail which you believe to be a scam e-mail you can contact the internet service provider that was used to send you the e-mail, for example with Yahoo its abuse@yahoo.com and GMAIL has a report spam button. You can also report it to Action Fraud via their website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ and on 0300 123 2040 (24 hour).

 

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;

 

The Valuation Office Agency, who are responsible for determining the council tax band for your home, have provided some useful information  about Council Tax scams and what you can do to avoid them. 

This is available via their website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/council-tax-and-business-rates-scams

 

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.

 

Updated: 6 Sep 2019
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