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Benefits, Council Tax, Business Rates, and housing scams

Council Tax refund scam

We've been made aware of residents being sent fake emails saying they're getting a Council Tax refund.

The emails are made to look like they come from the government. They show a false email address, and use the black and white government website branding.

The email states how much the customer will be refunded by, and that the refund will be made directly onto their credit or debit card. There is a button or link to 'claim' the refund.

This is a fraudulent, scam email and should be deleted. If you get one of these emails, please do not click on any links in the email. If you've clicked on a link accidentally, do not enter any of your personal information on the website.

If you get one of these emails and you're not sure if it's real or not, our Revenue Services team will be able to help. You can call us on 01642 726006. You can also call us if you have any general questions about your Council Tax account.

Last updated: 15/05/20

Rental scam

We've been made aware of a scam involving properties listed on Facebook as available for rent.

When the victim gets in touch with the 'landlord' who posted the advert, they are asked to pay a deposit and sign a tenancy agreement. Once this has happened, the 'landlord' deletes the advert and/or closes down their Facebook page, and stops responding to any contact from the victim.

If you’ve been a victim of rental fraud, Citizens Advice has a guide to whether you can get your money back after a scam. You should also report the scam to Action Fraud.

If you’re looking for a house to rent, Action Fraud has tips to help you avoid rental fraud. Citizens Advice also has helpful advice on finding a home to rent.

Last updated: 20/05/20

Business Rates scams

We're getting lots of scam calls from people trying to obtain NNDR (Business Rates) numbers in order to fraudulently get one of the coronavirus-related business grants. Because of this, we won't give out NNDR numbers over the phone. If you're a Business Rates payer and you need your NNDR number, you can find it on your bill.

Last updated: 01/06/20

Recognising scams

Have you had a scam email?

Help to recognise a scam email

Look out for spelling mistakes, missing punctuation like full stops, and emails written in poor English. Government emails are written very well. They don't include spelling mistakes, missing punctuation, random capital letters, or broken English.

Also look for missing capital letters, or capital letters used when they shouldn't be. For example, "hmrc" instead of "HMRC". Search for the government department online to see how they write their name.

Compare the email to others you've had from the government before. Is the style of the email different? For example, does it use the same colours? Are there any differences in the logo? Is the header or footer missing? Has it addressed you by name, or just something like 'dear customer'? Do emails usually quote part of your personal information, for example your account number, and it's missing?

If there are links in the email, think before you click on them. If you're on a desktop, hover your mouse over the link and see what it says. If you're on a phone or tablet, tap and hold on the link, and see what it says. Usually the link will be to a fake website which will try to steal your personal information. If you get an email which is pretending to be from the government, but the link is not to a government website, it's a scam.

Sometimes scams are very good and it's not obvious that the email is fake. If you're not sure, find another way to contact the government department (via the official government website) and ask for help. Some government departments have help services on social media sites like Twitter. On Twitter, look for a blue tick to show it's an official account.

Report a scam email

If you get an email which you think is a scam, you can report it online to Action Fraud

Stay safe

Action Fraud has top tips on how to protect yourself from fraud as well as an A-Z of types of fraud, what they are and how to recognise them, and what to do.