Warning – don’t get caught by council tax scam
A WICK councillor is warning about a new scam in which the public are duped into paying fees to have their council tax reassessed.
Highland Council has been alerted to a scam whereby cold callers phone up claiming that the resident can have their tax band reassessed upon payment of £150.
Councillor Andrew Sinclair, who represents Wick and East Caithness, said: "I hope that the number of people affected by this scam remains low.
"We need to do whatever we can to raise awareness of this kind of thing and make sure any residents, particularly the elderly, aren't taken in by any potential fraudsters."
Council tax bands are determined by the assessor and electoral registration officer who is independent from Highland Council.
A council spokesperson said: "The assessor does not cold call customers nor reassess council tax bands in this way.
"This is a scam, and the scammers are taking advantage of annual council tax bills being sent out at this time."
If you receive an email offering a council tax refund and asking you to provide your bank account details by clicking on a link, ignore it and delete the email.
Similarly, if you are cold-called and asked to provide your bank details to receive a council tax refund, ignore the request and hang up.
Allan Gunn, head of revenues and customer services, explained: "Any communication with council tax payers from the council’s corporate resources service about something like a refund would be in writing. We would never cold-call asking for bank details.
"Anyone receiving such an unsolicited call is advised to end the call immediately. Under no circumstances give any personal details to the caller."
Mr Gunn suggests that anyone who has a neighbour or relative who "may be more susceptible to such activity" should be informed about the scam.
Councillor Sinclair said: "The council has procedures in place about how it contacts residents. People should always treat any unusual or suspicious communications with scepticism."
If you have any doubt as to the authenticity of a call, contact the council's freephone council tax helpline on 0800 393811.
If residents think that they may be entitled to a reduction in their council tax, they can contact the council tax and benefits helpline on 0800 393811 for advice and assistance.
For queries regarding your council tax band please contact the assessor at firstname.lastname@example.org