Stratford-on-Avon District Council (SDC) has been made aware of people receiving scam texts in various areas of the country.
SDC is not sending out any text messages about Council Tax refunds, and the advice is not to open any web link if a message comes through to you claiming it is from SDC.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) also provides information on bogus Council Tax scams.
Examples of scams to be aware of include:
Calls have been taken in the Contact Centre recently involving a potential scam targeting residents in the area. In this case, a lady purported to be representing the SDC's Council Tax department. It was in regard to a potential refund of thousands of pounds following a change in Council Tax banding. On this occasion the lady requested bank details up front in order to facilitate the refund as well as a £65 upfront payment for admin costs. When the request was refused and the resident requested the number to call the company back on, to verify that they were genuine, the caller slammed the phone down.
This was not a legitimate call and we would not request payment in this manner from residents. If you are in any doubt, please verify with the council using the Council Tax helpline on (01789) 260990.
The council has become aware of an increasing number of cold calls from fraudsters calling Council Tax payers telling them their Council Tax band has been reduced, and requesting bank details and dates of birth to process the refund.
A reference number is given along with a telephone number, 0905 005 0400.
If you receive such a call you may wish to contact the police. Never divulge information unless you are sure of the identity of the caller.
To check if a call is genuine contact the Council Tax helpline on (01789) 260990.
A resident in the district got in touch to say they had received a call stating that they were entitled to a Council Tax refund.
The caller claimed to be from SDC and that they would be making a personal call to their property to refund an over-payment of Council Tax.
This is not genuine and they are not from SDC.
If a Council Tax payer does overpay, SDC will arrange a refund direct to the paying bank account or will send a cheque to the account payer. These refunds are not hand-delivered.
If a caller comes to your house claiming they are from the council and that you are owed a refund for Council Tax and you cannot establish their identity by calling SDC, or if you have any doubt regarding their identity, we advise you dial 999 and ask for the police.
All SDC employees carry staff identity cards and will be happy for you to call the council on 01789 267575 to check their authenticity.
Remember: never disclose personal or valuable details such as your date of birth, passport or driving licence number, credit card or bank details, security numbers or passwords.
There are companies who offer to try and get a Council Tax band reduced on behalf of a Council Tax payer; these companies will normally charge a fee or a percentage of any savings. Council Tax payers do not have to be represented in discussions about their Council Tax bands. Appeals against bands can be made free of charge and the council's advice is to contact the VOA on 03000 501501 to discuss the band.
However, ratepayers who do wish to be represented should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct. Before you employ a Council Tax adviser, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care and, if necessary, seek further advice before entering into any contract.
For further information, please contact Revenues: