September 1st 2015
A new vishing (telephone-based) scam has emerged, with victims being told that they are entitled to a council tax rebate.
According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), fraudsters have been phoning victims telling them that they have been placed in the wrong council tax bracket for a number of years and are entitled to a rebate … normally quoting the figure of £7000. Action Fraud has received 16 reports of the scam since mid July.
Once the victim is convinced, the fraudster tells them that in order to receive the rebate they will need to pay an administration fee in advance; the payment they ask for varies between £60-350. The victim provides the details and makes the payment, but then is no longer able to make contact with the person they spoke to on the phone.
"Wrong tax bracket"
When they phone their council about the rebate and the fact that they are in the wrong tax bracket, the council will confirm that they know nothing about it and that they have been contacted by fraudsters.
The fraudsters have been targeting mainly over 60 year-olds – both male and female – who live in the Sussex area, but it is likely that the fraudsters will also start to target victims in other areas.
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith said: “Fraudsters are relentless and will work tirelessly to find new ways to convince people to part with their money. These criminals make several calls and will be particularly convincing and provide good reason for why the person should make an immediate payment. We urge people to be vigilant and never respond to these callers who are simply trying to scam you”.
How to protect yourself:
– Never respond to unsolicited phone calls.
– Remember that your local council will never phone you out of the blue to discuss a council tax rebate.
– If you receive a call of this nature, put the phone down straight away.
– No legitimate organisation will ask you to pay an advance fee in order receive money; so never give them your card details.
– If you receive a such a call which you believe is genuine, agree to confirm this is the case by hanging up and calling back, but wait five minutes to clear the line as fraudsters sometimes keep the line open. Alternatively, use another phone line to call back. Then call your bank or card issuer to report the actual or attempted fraud, but still use a different line to make the call, or call somebody first whose voice you recognise to ensure that the line is clear.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting tool.