Householders are facing a “barrage” of council tax scams offering bogus refunds or threatening fines, town hall leaders have warned.
Fraudsters are telling people via text, email and phone that they have either paid too much council tax and are due a refund, which they offer to claim on their behalf for a “fee”, or demand payment for arrears, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
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.
Council tax band reassessments are 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. Some also use the Government’s GOV.UK branding in text messages and often include a link to a fake website to claim the refund.
The LGA is urging anyone who receives an email, text message or phone call offering a council tax refund not to give out any personal information, particularly bank account details, or debit or credit card details. It advises recipients delete the email or text, block the sender and make sure they do not reply or click on any links. Any such phone calls should be brought to an end as quickly as possible.
Simon Blackburn, from the LGA, said: “Cold-hearted criminals are using more convincing scams which are being sent out barrage-style and reported by local authorities. These council tax scams can damage people’s lives, both financially and emotionally, and anyone can be fooled by them, especially if they appear to look official.