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Council Tax fraudsters using phones 26.03.10

Residents in Sutton are being urged to be on their guard against telephone fraudsters who are using bogus council tax repayments as bait to obtain sensitive financial information from local people.

It is feared an organised gang could now be operating across south London, with Sutton one of the prime targets on their hit list.

It comes after a householder in Wandsworth yesterday (Thursday) reported that she had received a telephone call from someone pretending to be a council tax official.

She told town hall fraud investigators that the caller had claimed to work for Wandsworth Council and insisted that her home had been revalued for council tax purposes.

He told her that because her home had been placed in a lower council tax banding – she was due a refund. This could be arranged and paid, he told her, if she would give him her bank account details.

Sensing that the caller was not genuine, the resident hung up.

Julie Turner, Executive Head of Business Services (Interim) at Sutton Council, said: "These calls are a complete and utter fraud.

"People should not be taken in by them – and they should never give any sensitive personal information like bank account details or their date of birth to people who ring up out of the blue."

"No genuine council employee would ever make such a call and it would simply not be necessary for us to have your bank account details for this purpose.

"My advice to anyone who gets these calls is refuse to tell them anything at all and simply hang up. We have not had any incidents reported in Sutton but it would be wise to be aware."

Sutton Council does not make refunds over the telephone. If an account goes into credit, refunds are made by electronic bank transfer.

The council does not determine which households are included within each council tax banding. These decisions are made by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which is part of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.

Last updated: Monday, 12 April 2010

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