Action Fraud have issued a warning to consumers as they have seen an increase in fraudsters claiming to be local council officials, cold-calling customers stating that they are eligible for a tax, or council tax refund.
They have seen a sharp increase in the number of reports relating to fake council tax refunds in the last few weeks.
It has been reported that criminals are calling potential victims, and are using a range of other techniques, such as sending text messages. This is all in a bid to convince the intended victims that the tax rebate is legitimate, when in fact this may not be the case.
The fraudsters will tell you how much tax you can claim back but emphasise that an advance fee payment is required in order to make the tax claim successful.
Whilst it may not be easy to identify if a tax rebate is legitimate, you should take care and know for certain that the tax you are planning to claim is genuine. A genuine company or organisation will never ask you for an advance fee payment to cover the administration costs in order to claim tax.
- Make vigorous checks if you ever get a cold call associated with a tax rebate.
- Never take up offers of tax rebates on the spot from cold calls and texts messages. Take a look at the recent tax rebate scams by HMRC – the same technique of offering an enticing-looking refund can be applied to private companies and public organisations.
- Don’t give your bank account details or sensitive information to anyone without carrying out your own research on them.
- Get independent financial advice before claiming any form of tax refund.
- Check the caller’s credentials. Ask if they have a permanent business address and landline telephone number. Any mobile numbers given by fraudsters are often pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace.
- Always check a company’s contact details (such as a website, address and phone number) are correct and that they registered in the UK.
If this happens to you:
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud.
- If you believe you have lost money or have given over details then contact your bank.
- Receive any emotional support and practical advice from Warwickshire Victim Support
If You Are Affected
· If you fall victim to any scam, report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk
· If you would like support as a result of becoming a victim of any crime, contact Victim Support
on 01926 682 693.
Make a scam/rogue trader complaint to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.