Fraudsters are targeting homes in North Devon, warns Trading Standards.
PEOPLE in North Devon are being warned to be on their guard against bogus officials claiming they can save them thousands of pounds through council tax band revaluations.
According to council sources, fraudsters have been ringing residents, alleging they are calling on behalf of North Devon Council, and making misleading statements suggesting they could be in the wrong council tax band.
They then request money up front in order to process the revaluation.
The advice from Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service and North Devon Council is to end the call straight away, and report the incident to them.
Council leader Cllr Brian Greenslade, said: “Despite what these callers are suggesting, you do not need to pay anyone if you want to appeal against your Council Tax Band.
“Anyone wishing to challenge their council tax band can do so easily by directly contacting the Valuation Office Agency.
“There is no charge for reassessment and it is not a complicated procedure so there is absolutely no need for residents to go through an agent to contact them or any requirement for a third party to intervene.
“Residents should be assured that we will never cold call, text or email them about their council tax banding, and would certainly never request payment for revaluation or insist people disclose their bank details to us over the phone. If there are any changes to be made to a council tax bill, then we will send you a statement through the post explaining the situation.”
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “Worryingly, these scammers are using the promise of reduced council tax as a means of conning money out of people and gathering personal financial details.
“We would advise residents not to be tempted to do business with these people – do not hand over any money or give out any personal details, and end the call as quickly as possible.
“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.
“Scams like this are crimes, so it is vital that people report them, and we would encourage anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to a scam and lost money or those who have received what they suspect is a scam, to come forward.
“Rest assured that we will continue to take action to protect local people from scams, and make this region a difficult place for scammers to operate in.”
Council tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which has provided some helpful advice on their website on ‘how to deal with scams’.
It has also produced a guide called ‘What to do if you disagree with your council tax banding’ which provides full information about challenging your council tax banding.
To report a suspected incident of this scam, people can contact Devon & Somerset Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506
More information is also available in your council tax information booklet or by visiting the Valuation Office Agency’s website at www.voa.gov.uk or by calling 03000 501501.