Trading standards warning over ‘council tax refund’ scam

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LANCASHIRE’s trading standards service has received several calls from residents reporting bogus offers of a “council tax refund”.

Victims of the scam say they have received a phone call claiming to be from their local district council telling them they are entitled to a refund of £7,000 from their council tax. The bogus official requests confirmation of the consumer’s name and address and then asks for bank account details to transfer the money. The fraudster then asks for a £100 fee to process the refund.

Lancashire Trading Standards have confirmed that the caller is not calling on behalf of district councils and advise that consumers should never give out bank details until they are fully confident they know who they are talking to. Anyone who has given out their bank details to a caller like this should contact their bank immediately to ensure unauthorised transactions have not gone through on their account.

People who think they might genuinely be eligible for a council tax refund should contact their local council directly. Anyone who is entitled to a council tax refund, should never be asked to pay a fee to receive the money.

Paul Noone, Lancashire County Council’s chief trading standards officer, said: “This is a variation of a nationwide scam that has hit Lancashire residents before. Sometimes the caller says the resident has overpaid their council tax and requires bank details to process a refund.

“The main purpose of the scam is to obtain the victim’s bank details or money. We would like to stress that these phone calls have no connection whatsoever with the district councils and their council tax collection functions.”

Albert Atkinson, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for trading standards, is urging residents to be on their guard against confidence tricksters: “Scammers will try lots of different strategies to catch people out. They are usually very convincing.

“It’s important for people to use their own good judgement and to be very sceptical when they receive unexpected phone calls from people making apparently generous offers.”

People are asked to refer the details of any attempted scam to Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.