Warning over council tax scam

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RESIDENTS across South Somerset and East Devon are being warned to be wary of Council Tax scams that may be prevalent in the next few weeks as bills start to be delivered to households.

The offer to reduce your Council Tax banding, reduce your monthly payments or claim money back for a small fee may sound enticing, but it’s more than likely that you have been contacted by a scammer who is only interested in getting money or your bank details out of you.

One scam currently in operation that has been highlighted to South Somerset District Council asks for you to confirm your bank details in an email to receive a refund for your previous year’s Council Tax bill.

The email even gives a telephone number to call which is a direct line to the Council Tax Team at Oldham Council, making it appear even more genuine.

There are key things to check when you receive communication about Council Tax:
* When writing to you, District Councils will address the letter directly to you rather than to ‘the occupier’ or ‘sir/madam’;

* Councils will never ask for your bank account details on the phone or via email, to refund overpaid council tax. Many scams involve asking for a fee to see if your Council Tax banding can be lowered. This is a service that can be done for free. Council Tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency and can only be changed under certain conditions. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals.

Ian Potter, Revenues Manager at South Somerset District Council said: “Many scams are highlighted to the council and we try to inform residents when they are brought to our attention because ultimately it’s you, the resident, who may lose out.

“If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and need help, speak with a member of the Council Tax Team on 01935 462462 who will be able to offer help and advice.”

Councillor Peter Seib, Portfolio Holder for Finance & Legal Services at SSDC added: “If you are due a refund of overpaid Council Tax we will do this automatically.

“You can check your Council Tax band with the Valuation Office for free. In either case don’t let a scammer con you.”

Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Chard & Ilminster Reporter | After studying for his NCTJ in Bournemouth, Peter started with the paper in June 2015 on a freelance basis, now permanently based in East Devon covering community and council news.

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