Northumberland residents are being warned to to be on their guard following another spate of Council Tax telephone scams.
The Trading Standards team at Northumberland County Council has received a number of complaints about telephone calls and text messages where the caller claims that the resident can have their Council Tax band reassessed upon payment of £150. They claim to be acting on behalf of Northumberland County Council but in reality they are not.
If residents wish to have their Council Tax band assessed, they can do so, free of charge, by contacting The Valuation Office Agency via https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/valuation-office-agency or alternatively via details which will have been supplied to residents with either a previous or current Council Tax bill.
Coun John Riddle, Northumberland County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Resilience said: “It’s sad that there are people out there who devote so much time and effort to ripping off other people. It does mean that everyone has to be careful. People have to be wary when they receive calls from an unknown or unexpected source because, all too often, these are part of a scam. The Council would never contact a resident in this manner to issue a refund and we certainly wouldn’t charge £150 to provide advice on an issue like this. ”
Philip Soderquest, Head of Housing and Public Protection, added: “We would urge residents to be vigilant. Unfortunately scammers can be very persuasive and can con people into believing that they are legitimate, so always remember to be on your guard and always take time to think and if necessary take advice from a family member or friend before passing on your details to a third party. Where possible, especially if they claim to represent the council or another public body, ask for their details and check them out with the organisation before passing on any details.
To reduce the risks of falling for telephone scams Trading Standards has the following tips:
Be wary of unsolicited callers suggesting or implying that you are due a refund or other money.
Never provide your personal details or bank or credit card details.
Don’t take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the salesman your full attention – if you want to talk, ask them to call back at a convenient time.
Don’t agree to something on the phone just to get rid of a persistent caller.
If you’re not clear about who you are speaking to, terminate the call.
If you receive one of these calls or text messages and would like further advice you can contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 0506, or report any potential fraud to ‘Action Fraud’ at www.actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud , or by calling 0300 123 2040. Useful advice for consumers and businesses is available on the Take Five - To Stop Fraud website at www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk