In a press release issued today, Richmond Council are warning that bogus callers are once again targeting residents of Richmond Upon Thames.
The most recent scam in use, it appears, is cold callers claiming to be Council Officials, saying households are due for a Council Tax rebate. Five such cases have been reported.
The Council have confirmed they would never cold call in this way, and residents should NOT give their bank or personal details out to anyone. Requests are made by these con artists for bank details to facilitate payment of the rebate - no money will be paid, but substantial sums could be removed from the account.
From the press release:
Cllr Pamela Fleming, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This is a serious scam that must be stopped, and it is important that people know the Council would not use cold calling to notify them about a council tax rebate and would never ask for bank account details in this way.
“These types of crime are very difficult to trace and prosecute but people should be aware they do happen. We have already received five calls from people concerned about being conned, and my worry is more people have been called and fallen victim to this trickery without knowing it. I would urge anyone who is contacted to hang up the phone and call the Government’s Consumer Direct service straight away on 08454 040506.”
The Council does issue rebates to residents but it is almost always local people who contact the Council Tax department to ask for a refund or discount when their circumstances change. It is incredibly rare for the Council to initiate the process, and if it does happen, it would be in a formal, written way.
The five residents who have notified the Council on fake callers have said the person ringing claimed to work for a company acting on behalf of the Council. He had said the address had been re-banded into a cheaper Council Tax bracket and a refund was due, before asking for bank details to pay money into.
The most recent recipient of a fake call told the Council that a woman caller had said that because she had paid her Council Tax for a long time, she was eligible for a £7,000 refund. The woman put the phone down on the caller but said she was worried vulnerable people could be duped.
The calls to Richmond upon Thames’ residents come at the same time as Kingston Council logged 20 complaints from fraudsters claiming their residents were also entitled to refunds.
So please, please be vigilant and don't give your personal details out to anyone.
If you do receive a call, ring the number above to report it.
Silas Van Der Bas
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Silas Van Der Bas is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.