People in the Chichester District are being warned to be extra vigilant and be aware of calls from companies offering to challenge their council tax banding for a fee.
Following a recent complaint, the council is reminding people that they can find out their council tax banding for FREE by contacting the Valuation Office.
A number of companies contact residents directly and offer to challenge the banding on a resident's behalf.
The companies' methods include:
Charging an up-front fee then not making the challenge at all.
Asking for a person's bank details so they can provide a refund but instead taking money from the account.
Offering a resident an agent, telling them they must have one by law in order to challenge the banding, when this is not the case at all.
Chichester District Council is urging people not to give any bank details over the phone and to end any suspicious telephone call immediately.
Any suspicious phone calls, text messages or emails should be reported as soon as possible to:
- Chichester District Council's Council Tax team;
- Sussex Police on 101; and
- West Sussex County Council Trading Standards on 03454 04 05 06.
Residents are also reminded that any genuine direct phone number given by Chichester District Council will be in the format of 01243 534***.
In some cases these companies may carry out cold calls at people's homes. Residents who do receive a cold call are urged to seek identification from the person at the door, ring a cold caller's office to confirm their identity and dial 999 if a cold caller refuses to leave.
Councillor Philippa Hardwick, Cabinet Member for Finance at Chichester District Council, says: "We are urging residents to be extremely careful and not give out any details over the phone.
"If you are concerned about the banding of your property, you can do this for free by contacting your local Valuation Office. Anyone can do this and you do not need a third party despite what these companies may tell you over the phone.
"No council will contact residents in this way and we certainly will not undertake cold calls at people's homes and ask for their bank details. I would urge everyone to be vigilant and also keep an eye on older relatives or neighbours. Anyone concerned about a call should report it immediately."
For more information go to the Council Tax section at the Valuation Office Agency https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/valuation-office-agency
People can also contact Chichester District Council's Council Tax team http://www.chichester.gov.uk/counciltax.