RESIDENTS in the Chichester district are being warned to be vigilant following a number of complaints about bogus calls claiming residents’ properties are in the wrong council tax band.
The scammers call and offer to challenge the banding on a resident’s behalf, often for a fee. The scammers’ methods include charging an up-front fee then not making the challenge at all, asking for a person’s bank details so they can provide a refund but instead they take money from the account and offering a resident an agent, telling them they must have one by-law in order to challenge the banding, when this is not the case at all.
Following calls in Selsey, the Witterings and the Bournes, Chichester District Council is urging people not to give any bank details over the phone and to end any suspicious telephone call immediately.
Any suspicious phone calls, text messages or emails should be reported as soon as possible to Chichester District Council’s council tax team on 01243 534501 or email email@example.com
You can also call Sussex Police on 101 or West Sussex County Council Trading Standards on 03454 04 05 06.
Any genuine direct phone number given by Chichester District Council would be in the format of 01243 534***.
In some cases scammers may carry out cold calls at people’s homes. If they receive a cold call residents are urged to seek identification from the person at the door, ring a cold caller’s office to confirm their identity and dial 999 if a cold caller refuses to leave.
Councillor Tony Dignum, cabinet member for finance and governance, said: “We are urging residents to be extremely careful and not give out any details over the phone. If you are concerned about the banding of your property, you can do this for free by contacting your local Valuation Office. Anyone can do this and you don’t need a third party despite what these scammers may tell you over the phone.
“No council would contact residents in this way and we would certainly not cold call homeowners and ask for their bank details. I would urge everyone to be vigilant and also keep an eye on older relatives or neighbours. Anyone concerned about a call should report it immediately.”
For more information about these types of scams, go to the Council Tax section on the Valuation Office Agency’s website www.voa.gov.uk or call 03000 501501.