Website URL : http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=10130

Warning over council tax scam

Residents are being urged to be vigilant against a bogus cold calling scam in which fraudsters offer a council tax rebate in exchange for bank details.

Cherwell District Council has received calls from customers who have been contacted by people alleging to be council officers offering to refund credits on their council tax bill.

The caller reportedly phones residents to advise they are in credit on their council tax account and then either asks for bank details to enable them to refund the money, or provides a fake telephone number where people can provide these details.

Cllr George Reynolds, deputy leader, said: "First and foremost we want to stress that Cherwell District Council will never, ever call a resident and ask for bank details. The only time bank details will ever be discussed is if a customer calls us and provides their details in order to set up a payment or receive benefits.

"Secondly, as a rule Cherwell does not cold call its residents about refunds and any council tax credits will be advised of in writing. Therefore we would urge anyone who receives a cold call from someone claiming to be from the council and asking for bank details to hang up and, if necessary, call our customer services advisors to confirm if the call is genuine."

Residents who have a genuine credit on their council tax bill will be notified of this in writing by Cherwell District Council. Emails and telephone calls are not used to provide this information.

Credits will then be automatically refunded into the account from which the bill was paid. If the amount was paid in cash, customers will be asked for bank details to pay any refund directly to their bank account and help reduce cheque fraud. However, residents would already have been sent a letter confirming the credit amount. Cheques will only be issued in exceptional circumstances.

Alternatively for residents moving home within the district, this credit can be transferable to their new property's council tax account.

Anyone who is unsure should call the council's customer services department on 01295 227001 or visit www.cherwell.gov.uk/counciltax

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