Anti-fraud bodies are warning that there has been an increase in scammers offering bogus council tax refunds.
The phishing scam emails claim that the victim is owed money on their payments but are then asked for bank details to process the refund. This is how the scammer grabs the victim's cash.
These emails should be quite easy to spot, but if you’re in doubt look out for the classic signs. Scammers often don’t know the recipients’ real names so they’ll use generic terms like ‘Dear customer’ and they’ll probably contain a few spelling and grammatical errors.
Just remember that you’ll never receive unsolicited emails telling you that you’re owed a council tax rebate.
Local council 'refunds' over the phone
Action Fraud is also urging households to be vigilant of cold calls claiming to be from their local council.
Victims are told that they’ve been in the wrong tax bracket for years. They’re then told that they’re entitled to a rebate around the value of £7,000.
In order to receive the rebate they’ll need to pay an ‘administration fee’ upfront, generally from £60-£350.
Once they’ve made the payment and finished the call, the scammer disappears and can’t be reached by the victim again.
If you’re at all unsure, remember that you should never respond to unsolicited phone calls. Your local phone won’t ever phone you to discuss a tax rebate so you should just ignore it. Organisations won’t ask for your details over the phone so don’t give them your card details.
Hang up the phone and wait five minutes for the line to clear if you think you have been a victim of fraud. Fraudsters may keep the line open.
Using a different phone if you can, call your bank or card issuer to report the fraud.
HMRC council tax emails
Luckily, this one's a bit of a dud. There have been dodgy emails claiming to be from HMRC telling people that they are due a refund directly from the taxman.
Clicking on links in the email will either take you to a fake replica website or will download trackable malware onto your computer. Scammers will use these methods to harvest victims’ bank account details.
Anybody who receives this email should get in touch with email@example.com.