Beware new council tax scam where fraudsters offer you a refund

18 March 2019
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Fraudsters are targeting people in a new council tax scam by suggesting they are owed a refund.

The email says that the receiver has overpaid on their council tax bill and includes links which take you to a website to enter your details.

Known as a phishing scam, once you click on the link you are taken to a fake government website where you are asked for your personal details as well as bank information to claim a refund.

However, once you have entered your details the fraudsters will use the information to withdraw money from your account.

ActionFraud says it has received over 100 reports in the last month of the scam.

Mark White, chief executive of fraud prevention service Reassura, says: "This is a play on the classic phishing scam where fraudsters trick victims into handing over financial details, the new twist is telling people that they are owed a refund.

“Phishing attacks are the most common personal scams worldwide and recent data from America showed average losses per victim last year of £3,800."

Other council tax scams include one where fraudsters call victims telling them they have been placed in the wrong council tax bracket and are entitled to a rebate.

Once the victim is convinced, the fraudster tells them that in order to receive the rebate they will need to pay an administration fee in advance – often between £60-350.

After the victim has provided their details and made the payment they find are then no longer able to make contact with the person they spoke to on the phone.

How to protect yourself

Call your council – If you receive an email find your council’s phone number and give them a call to check. Make sure you find the number independently and don’t use the one in the email as this is will be a fake.

Check the grammar – Councils will always proof-read correspondence sent out to you. So if the email contains lots of grammar or spelling mistakes there is a good chance that it is fake.

Contact the bank - If you are worried you have given out your bank details to a fraudster contact your bank immediately and explain what happened.

Don’t assume a phone call or email is authentic - Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name or address), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Criminals can easily spoof the phone numbers and email addresses of companies you know and trust.

Check unsolicited requests - Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information, and never click on the links and attachments in emails or texts you receive out of the blue.

What to do if you have fallen victim

Let your bank know as soon as possible and monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.

If you suspect your identity may have been stolen you can check your credit file quickly and easily online. You should do this every few months anyway using a reputable service provider and following up on any unexpected or suspicious results.

If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber-crime you can report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Could not help but laugh. Read your column about Council Tax Scam and its follow up advice as below."How to protect yourselfCall your council – If you receive an email find your council’s phone number and give them a call to check. Make you find the number independently and sure you don’t use the one in the email as this is will be a fake."This is followed by second bit of advice. " Check The Grammar".I take it no-one proof reads your advice, as if bad grammar is a warning of dodgy websites ten do we ad Moneywise to them.

In reply to by David Kavanagh (not verified)

Spelling

The team also needs to check their spelling. 'i' before 'e' except after 'c'. 'Receive' is spelt incorrectly.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So you have to PAY for a REFUND?! Why on Earth would you do that?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

In addition to the above, hover your mouse over the (usually blue) button which they ask you to click on to claim your refund or enter your details BUT DO NOT CLICK. If you look in the bottom left of your screen you will see the address of the website you are being re-directed to. If it doesn't have your council's website shown there, or if there is something suspicious don't click, but bin the email.

Spelling

Sorry not "receive". It was the "receiver".

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