Sharp rise in council tax rebate scams

Council tax refund scams are on the rise

There's been a big increase in the number of fraudsters cold-calling householders and claiming they are eligible for a council tax rebate.

Posing as local council officials or professionals, they are not only phoning potential victims but also using a range of other techniques, such as sending text messages.

SEE ALSO: Scamwatch: vehicle tax refund fraud



See also: Stop! It's not a tax refund. It's a scam!



The fraudsters explain that a rebate is due, but that an advance fee payment is required - which of course is never seen again.

"Whilst it may not be easy to identify if a tax rebate is legitimate, you should take care and know for certain that the tax you are planning to claim is genuine," says Action Fraud.

"A genuine company or organisation will never ask you for an advance fee payment to cover the administration costs in order to claim tax."

The scam is basically the same as one that's been doing the rounds for a while, with fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC and offering an income tax rebate - if their victim hands over their bank details.

Similarly, drivers have been receiving emails supposedly from the DVLA claiming they're offering a vehicle tax refund. Victims are asked to click on a link to access a 'secure web form' - which of course is a dodgy link.

The council tax scam should be easier to spot, as asking for an advance fee is hardly a standard requirement in the UK.

But if you do get a call that you think might be genuine, never take it up on the spot.

"Don't give your bank account details or sensitive information to anyone without carrying out your own research on them. Check the caller's credentials. Ask if they have a permanent business address and landline telephone number. Any mobile numbers given by fraudsters are often pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace," says Action Fraud.

"Always check a company's contact details (such as a website, address and phone number) are correct and that they are registered in the UK."

And if you receive a call that you think is fraudulent, you should report it to Action Fraud here.

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Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.
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