Oxford City Council is warning Oxford residents against council tax scams aimed at getting their personal bank details and conning them out of their money.
Scammers are contacting people by phone, text and email and posing as staff from the council, the Valuation Office Agency or the Tax Recovery Bureau in order to defraud them.
Current scams include telling people they have paid too much council tax and are due a refund, which fraudsters offer to claim on their behalf for a fee. The council will never ask for payment to make a council tax refund.
Another scam involves telling people their home is in the wrong council tax band and offering a refund in return for a fee – council tax band reassessments are free. A third scam demands payment for supposed council tax arrears.
Scammers may also use fake websites that look like genuine sites such as the government website GOV.UK. These fake websites are designed to harvest personal data that includes bank details.
The council says that residents should end a call and delete texts or emails if they suspect a scam or that a caller is bogus. Most importantly, they should not give out personal information like bank account or debit card details to people they suspect are fraudsters.
The council does ask for information from residents to administer their council tax accounts, including refunds or arranging arrears collection. Residents who want to verify genuine contact from the council should call 01865 249811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – all council email addresses end with @oxford.gov.uk.
Councillor Nigel Chapman, Cabinet member for Safer Communities and Customer Focused Services, said: “We will never charge anyone for a council tax refund or to reassess their council tax banding. If someone contacts you claiming to be from the council, you can verify this by calling us on 01865 249811 or emailing email@example.com. If you’re not sure that a call, text or email is genuine, please check with us before giving out personal information like bank account or card details.”