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Highland warning over council tax texting scam

By Alan Hendry

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HOUSEHOLDERS across the Highlands are being urged to watch out for a new council tax scam.

It has emerged that scammers are texting people and informing them that they are due a council tax rebate.

The local authority emphasises that this is not the way that any person due a rebate would be notified.

In this case a web address is given and the recipient is asked to open it. This website – which contains the characters "city1repay" – has been identified as unsafe and anyone accessing it may be putting their personal information at risk.

Trading standards team leader Mark McGinty said: “This is just the latest in a long line of many attempts to scam people either of their money or their personal information, which will eventually lead to an attempt to scam money at some point. I’d urge anyone who has received a text message they are not 100 per cent sure about to simply ignore it and remove it.

"In this case the web address was only set up yesterday [Tuesday] and although identified as a phishing site, and blocked by some security systems already, this may not be the case for all – so please take the advice and do not engage with the text. In all cases, if you think you are due council tax rebate, contact the council in the first instance.”

Sheila McKandie, acting 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 customers.

"If anyone has a neighbour or relative who may be more susceptible to such activity, it would be helpful if this advice was passed on to them. If you have any doubt as to the authenticity of any contact regarding council tax, please call the council's freephone council tax helpline on 0800 393811.”

Highland Council trading standards staff work in partnership with Advice Direct Scotland (ADS). Residents who think they may have been scammed can contact ADS which offers free and confidential consumer advice on freephone 0808 164 6000 or through its website,www.consumeradvice.scot

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