A scam is not just for Christmas…

Published Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Bromley Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard for council tax rebate scams particularly as Christmas approaches.

Residents have reported receiving telephone calls and emails encouraging them to apply for a council tax refund for a fee. Despite not expecting a refund, the victims have been persuaded to give their bank card details and subsequently lost large sums of money to the scammers.

Councillor Kate Lymer, SCAMbassador and Executive Councillor for Public Protection and Enforcement said “There are many scams operating when we’ll be contacted. If you’re not due a refund, it’s probably a scam no matter how genuine the call or email seems. Always be wary of anyone asking for a fee, however plausible, and never hand over your bank details expecting something in return. At this time of year, as lots of us see family and friends, this is a good time to warn them to be careful too and think before they act as the scammers often target the trusting, elderly or vulnerable amongst us.”

In the recent scam, the telephone caller purports to be from the council advising the resident that they are due a refund on their council tax as their house has been re-banded. One resident was persuaded to give her debit card details and paid £150, which the scammer said was necessary to carry out the survey, apparently normally priced at over £1000. Following the call, the resident felt uneasy and made some checks with Bromley Council Tax who confirmed that it was in fact a scam. 

The scam email requests that the recipient opens an attached document which contains a link to a fake Government Gateway account, requiring personal information to be revealed by the resident during the process.

The advice from Bromley Trading Standards is to protect yourself and if you receive an unsolicited telephone call you should:

  • Put the phone down straight away
  • Do not give or confirm any personal information
  • Do not give your bank account, debit or credit card details.

Anyone receiving an unsolicited email should:

  • Never reply to the email
  • Never click on a link within the email
  • Never call a telephone number listed in the email.

Anyone who might have been a victim of a phone scam is advised to hang up and wait 10 minutes for the line to clear. Alternatively, use a different phone to report the scam as the fraudsters sometimes keep the line open. Always report the details as soon as possible to:

  • Bank or card issuer
  • Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03456 04 05 06
  • Action Fraud, on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk

Christmas is a good time to remind relatives, both young and old, to be alert to the many other types of scams that can affect everyone. 

Members of voluntary groups, Resident Associations and clubs are advised that the Trading Standards team can visit their group to train group members to recognise the signs of a scam. Interested groups can get in touch to arrange an advice session by emailing trading.standards@bromley.gov.uk

ENDS

For media enquiries, please contact Andrew Rogers, Communications Executive, on 020 8461 7670 or email andrew.rogers@bromley.gov.uk