Council Tax Refund Scams – Don’t fall victim! If in doubt, contact the council directly, and report any calls

Message sent by Alison Smith (Police, Crime Reduction Advisor, South Oxon & Vale LPA)

Residents are being warned to be on their guard against bogus officials offering council tax refunds or threatening them with fines.

There have been several incidents reported recently across Oxfordshire, including in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse.

The fraudsters operate by ringing, texting or visiting residents claiming to be from the local council, valuation office or some other company which deals with changes to council tax banding. They suggest that you are either due a council tax refund, or owe more council tax and must pay it promptly to avoid a fine. They will then ask for personal information and bank details to process the refund or payment or they may ask for a fee to secure a refund or band reduction for you.

If you receive one of these calls, texts or visits, do not give out any personal information, end the call as quickly as possible and do not give any money to anyone who visits your home. The fraudsters can get aggressive and ring back if you put the phone down but this is all part of the scam to make you act as they want.

Neither South Oxfordshire nor Vale of White Horse District Council would ever call residents directly to demand bank details in this manner. Where it is believed that someone either owes or is owed money they will be invited to contact the council themselves to arrange payment. You will never have to pay a fee to have your council tax band reduced. It costs nothing to make an appeal against the band your home is in.

If there is any change to the amount you have to pay you will receive a bill through the post explaining the situation.

If you are in any doubt as to the authenticity of a call concerning your council tax account please call 0345 302 2313 (South Oxfordshire residents) or 0345 302 2315 (Vale residents).

To report a suspected incident of the scam, residents can contact Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards on 0845 0510845.