Householders are being warned to beware council tax scams after some people have been offered bogus refunds or threatened with fines by unscrupulous criminals.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn is leading the campaign to put people on their guard after residents across the country were targeted.
Coun Blackburn, in his role as chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said fraudsters had contacted their victims by text, email and phone to try to con them out of money.
He said: “Criminals are targeting people across the country in a new wave of council tax scams.
“We have seen this before but this time criminals are offering bogus refunds or threatening fines, and some of the branding can appear more convincing than we have seen before.”
He said there was no evidence of the scammers operating in Blackpool, but estimates suggest only five per cent of incidents are reported so it is likely people in the town will be targeted.
He urged people not to give out any personal information and to report it to the council if they believed they had been contacted by a scammer
Coun Blackburn said: “By reporting a scam, even if you don’t get your money back, you can alert the authorities and stop anyone else falling victim to it.”
Fees of £150 have been quoted in the scams which falsely claim to be from local councils or the Valuation Office Agency.
Coun Blackburn added: “These council tax scams can damage people’s lives, both financially and emotionally, and anyone can be fooled by them, especially if they appear to look official.
“Anyone who is contacted about a council tax refund or assessment over their council tax band which includes a request for personal information and bank details should ignore it and report it.
“Councils will never phone, text or email residents to ask for a payment to release a council tax refund or ask for personal bank details.”