Council tax refund scam warning as scammers make cold calls to get your £150
Households are facing cold calls from scammers to get their hands on £150 energy rebates from the government, it has been warned. Scammers try to get people’s bank details to access their government documents.
The UK government announced a £150 council tax refund in February that will benefit UK households from April. This was done in response to soaring energy bills, reports Hull Live.
Payments made by local authorities will go to all households in municipal tax brackets A to D. However, councils have warned residents to remain vigilant of the scam.
READ MORE:When you can expect a £150 council tax refund depending on where you live
Local authorities will never ask for bank details over the phone, they stressed. Each household that uses direct debit as payment for council tax will receive the tax refund directly to their account.
Meanwhile, those not paying council tax via direct debt will receive a letter with instructions on how to claim. Anyone who unexpectedly receives a text message, email or phone call requesting information or payment should not give out any personal information, including bank details, click on links or respond until they can be sure it is genuine, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
If in doubt, owners should find the details of the organization claiming to be in contact online and check with them directly. The pandemic has seen a surge in scams, which have included promises of payment from HM Revenue and Customs to support individuals during lockdown or offers to book vaccinations for a fee.
Mohan Iyengar, Deputy Chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Council, said: “Criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attempts to profit from the financial worries that people face and, as a result, good many of these scams seem legit on the face of it. Anyone can fall victim to a scam, and we urge people of all ages to review the tell-tale signs and the support available for those in need. If you receive a message that you think may be fraudulent, you can report it to your mobile operator or by forwarding the message to 7726, a free reporting service provided by telephone operators.
The rebate is part of the rebate on energy bills, which are refunds that do not need to be refunded. The government says the refund will help ordinary people cope with the rising cost of living.
Inflation is expected to peak at over 8% this year, leaving many wondering how they will make ends meet. Anyone living in property assessed in municipal tax brackets A to D as sole or main residence may claim the non-refundable allowance.
This is when you should receive your refund:
Wolverhampton City Council says payments will start in April 2022, after collecting the first Council Tax 2022/23 payment. All payments will be made by September 2022.
If you are not paying council tax by direct debit, you will need to provide the authority with your bank details before they can make the payment. You can do this by completing the online form.
The council will also send a letter to all eligible properties. You will have the option of receiving the £150 as a reduction in your council tax rather than a direct payment by fill in the form.
Dudley Council said it was aiming to start making the one-off £150 payments in April, a process which is expected to “continue in the following months”.
The authority adds that those who pay by direct debit will receive that payment automatically within weeks of their April direct debit, although it may take until early May. If the direct debit was made on April 6, your payment will be made in the next few weeks.
If your direct debit is scheduled for April 28, your energy discount will be made in the following weeks.
Sandwell Council says its website will be updated when it confirms the dates, however direct debit payers will likely receive their payment sooner. You can register at pay your residence tax by direct debit via the MySandwell portal to allow the authority to use this information to send your payment once all verification checks have been completed.
If you choose not to set up direct debit, Sandwell Council will contact you to find out how to submit a request.
Walsall council says payments will start in April 2022, after the authority collects the first council tax payment 2022/23. All payments will be made by September 2022.
If your council tax is collected by direct debit on April 1, payments of £150 start on April 11. Walsall Council will make payments for future collection dates approximately one week after collecting your direct debit.
Payments are made via BACS. They will appear in your bank account after three working days.
Birmingham City Council says where they hold bank details, payments are likely to start being issued from early May.
Solihull Council says no payments can be made until the first direct debit of the year has been made and cleared in April. This first payment will be used to confirm that the bank details they hold are correct.
If the first payment is made on April 1 by direct debit, the advice says you can expect your refund to be paid directly into your bank account during the week starting Monday April 11. If you pay council tax by direct debit on April 15, the rebate will be paid during the week beginning Monday, April 25.
If you are not paying council tax by direct debit or have recently set it up, you will receive a letter by April 25 with details on how to claim your refund online. If you are unable to apply online, the letter will also detail how you can get in touch with the authority so they can help you with your application.
Once you have applied online, you can expect to receive your rebate directly to your bank account approximately 14 working days after application.
Telford and Wrekin
Telford & Wrekin Council processed over 46,000 council tax refund payments for customers who, on 1 April 2022, registered to pay their council tax by direct debit. The £150 payment will appear in your bank account on or around April 7.
If you signed up for direct debit after April 1, you will also receive a letter inviting you to apply shortly. The council says its focus will now shift to customers who pay council tax in cash or other methods and that those customers will be contacted shortly by letter inviting them to apply.
This program is administered by Shropshire Council over a period of six months, from 1 April to 30 September. The board will begin making payments in April and payments will continue to be made in the spring and summer.
Most direct debit payers will be paid in April and May. However, the government has indicated that payments should not be made until the first installment of the year has been processed.
The council says it has four direct debit dates in the month, the 1st, 7th, 15th and 22nd, this means payments will be staggered over the month, depending on when the household pays their bill housing tax.
Refund payments have now started for Direct Debit payers who have a payout on April 1 and payments are expected to start hitting bank accounts by April 13. To date, Shropshire Council has paid just under 39,000 accounts totaling £5.8million. These will continue throughout April and May for residents paying by direct debit and payments will be completed by the end of September 2022 for all eligible taxpayers.