Residents in Doncaster are being warned about a number of bogus council tax refund schemes currently in operation across the borough.
The local authority says those carrying out the scam have targeted tax-payers both on the telephone and in person, claiming to be able to reduce their council tax bill.
A spokesman said: “Be cautious about people claiming to be able to reduce your council tax band for a fee.”
The council says examples of the tactics used by bogus agents to get residents to part with their money have included:
• Charging an up-front fee with an added 20 per cent of the reduction should they successfully reduce your council tax band.
• Insisting you are definitely in the wrong band and are owed back payments on your Council Tax bill, when in fact your band is correct.
• Saying they are from the local council or Valuation Office Agency (VOA) asking for your bank details so they can provide a refund.
• The fraudsters will then steal money from the bank account.
• Claiming that taxpayers must, by law, be represented by an agent to challenge their band, when in fact anyone can do this.
• Stating that they are on an approved list of agents recognised by the VOA, when in fact the VOA does not keep any such list.
How to avoid falling victim to this scam:
• Remember that you can check your band for free with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website by clicking here .
• Confirm over the phone with a cold-caller’s head office to check that they are legitimate. Ensure that if the cold-caller used the telephone, your last call ended properly before redialling the number.
• If you receive a call offering to reduce your band, make sure you are getting a dial-tone before calling the council or the VOA to check their story.
• Inform the police if you believe that anyone is impersonating staff from your local council or the VOA.
• Dial 999 if a doorstep cold-caller refuses to leave your home.
• Contact Doncaster Trading Standards if you feel you have been the victim of a Council Tax scam.
• If you have lodge an appeal about your council tax band, keep paying your council tax while the appeal is assessed as it is still due.
• Give your bank details to anyone.
• Let anyone into your home without seeing appropriate identification.
• Feel under pressure from a cold-caller to pay an immediate up-front fee. Take the time you need to think about it.
• Accept cold callers’ claims about your band without seeing evidence or proof of what they are claiming.
• Deal with anyone that is reluctant to give you their company address or contact details.
•Please note that bands can occasionally go up as well as down.
If you feel that you have been the victim of a Council Tax scam, contact Doncaster Trading Standards: