Fake Council Tax refund emails could con you into handing over bank details

Fake Council Tax refund emails could con you into handing over bank details

January 23, 2019

Scammers target potential victims by email to let them know that they have been overpaying on their tax bill.

The emails ask you to follow a link and fill in your details in order to get the cash back.

But in reality, the link takes you to a website that is run by the scammers who can then use your personal information to steal your money.

The emails are signed from a fake name – Andrew Walsh, Head of Communication Services – but the signature image shows that the email is from "Alison Walsh".

These kinds of spelling and grammar mistakes are common on scam emails and should warn you to question whether it is real or not.

They are also sent from an "@tax.com" email address which isn't one associated with the council or HMRC.

Councils up and down the country, including Derby, Sedgemoor and Stoke-on-Trent, are warning constituents not to be fooled by the phishing scams.

Cardiff Council pointed out that if you are due a refund, they will send you a credit bill in the post and not an email.

If the council already has your bank details then it will pay the refund direct.

If not, the customer is asked to contact the council to arrange a refund, not via email.

Those who have received an email are being advised not to open it, or click on any links and delete it immediately.

Other councils like North Somerset and Cherwell Council have reported that the fraudsters are also targeting people on the phone and with letters.

How to avoid council tax scams: 

  • remember that you can have your Council Tax band checked free of charge by contacting the Valuation Office Agency (VOA),
  • remember that you can find and check your business rates valuation online free of charge,
  • contact a cold caller’s head office to check that they’re legitimate (make sure that your last call has ended properly and you have a dial tone before redialing the number),
  • contact the council or the VOA if you receive a call offering to reduce your band or rateable value, to check their story,
  • inform the police if you believe that anyone is impersonating staff from your local council or the VOA.

If you've received one of these emails or you think you may be a victim of fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud.

Customers who think they've overpaid for their council tax can appeal their bill by submitting a letter of explanation to the council.

It's not the first time fraudsters have tried to trick Brits into thinking they're owed a council tax rebate – we first reported dodgy phones calls doing the rounds at the beginning of the year.

Netflix users has also being warned not to fall for fake emails asking customers to update their payment details.

Scammers are also getting more creative, including ones that target drivers with poor credit scores with fake adverts for car leases on social media.

Others are also tricking people into handing over their bank and card details with fake TV licensing emails.

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