Council tax scam warning

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WIGAN residents are being urged not to duped by companies claiming they can recoup hundreds of pounds in overpaid council tax.

Town hall chiefs say that it has emerged in recent months that some householders are handing over substantial amounts of cash in “administration fees” to re-band companies in the hope of being reimbursed any monies owed to them and of having their property re-valued to a lower council tax band.

One local recently contacted the council after parting with £165 after she and her husband were approached by a West Yorkshire-based company making exaggerated claims.

And now the 69-year-old grandmother of two from Whitley wants others to learn from her experience.

She said: “The company approached us over the phone and spoke with my husband. They sounded official and appeared very plausible. So convincing in fact that we agreed to pay an administration fee of £165. “The company claimed they would act on our behalf, checking to make sure that we were in the correct council tax band and arranging for us to be reimbursed for any overpayments.

“To be honest, we thought we might be in for a little windfall. But when we didn’t hear back from them after a few weeks, we began to suspect things were not as they first appeared.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We don’t consider ourselves to be easy targets because we’re certainly not push-overs. But it just goes to show, if they can take us in, they can take anyone in. That’s why I want to warn other residents.”

Anthony Mohammed, Head of Citizen Support at Wigan Council, said: “We urge residents who are approached to think twice before signing up for this. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

“The people who have contacted us have all ended up disappointed and out of pocket. If you are entitled to a refund, our system will automatically identify you and we will contact you if you are due a refund.”

Anyone thinking their property is in the wrong council tax band is urged to contact the Valuation Office Agency in Manchester on 03000 503 600.

To report incidents of bogus callers, call the Police on 101. For further advice, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 (calls charged at local rate).