Warning - Council tax banding scams
The council occasionally receives reports from residents who were telephoned or called upon ‘out of the blue’ by an individual or a company suggesting that the council tax band on their home could be reduced in return for payment of an upfront fee and the payment of a fixed percentage of any reduction achieved by the caller.
It is often claimed that the reduction could be backdated to 1993 but this is incorrect; council tax regulations only permit a reduction to be backdated up to a maximum of six years but sometimes this period will be shorter. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.
The real facts about Council tax banding
Your home is given a band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which we then use to calculate how much council tax you should pay. If you have any concerns regarding the council tax banding of your property then the VOA will be happy to assist you.
You can query your council tax band by contacting the VOA; there is no charge, it is free.
- Telephone (Wales): 03000 505 505
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel that the band on your home is wrong, then all you have to do is contact the VOA and explain why you think it is incorrect. They will also ask you to confirm that the details they hold about your home are correct. They will listen to your views and if they agree that the band is wrong, they will change it. Bands can occasionally go up as well as down.
Tactics used by fraudsters
Here are some tactics that may be used by potential fraudsters:
- charging an up-front fee and then not challenging your band on your behalf, blaming the VOA for not taking any action
- insisting your property is definitely in the wrong band, when in fact your band is correct
- saying they are from the local council or VOA and asking for your bank details so they can provide a refund. The council never cold-calls residents asking for bank details
- claiming that the VOA charges you to challenge your band when you can do this for free
- claiming that you must, by law, be represented by an agent to challenge your band when in fact anyone can do this
- saying that the VOA won’t reduce your band without the help of an agent because the government is short of money
Things you can do to avoid falling victim
Things you can do to avoid falling victim to scammers:
- remember that you can have your band checked free of charge by contacting your local Valuation Office
- ring a cold-caller’s office to confirm that they are who they say they are
- inform the police if you believe that anyone is impersonating staff from your local council or the VOA
- dial 999 if a cold caller refuses to leave your home
- to report an issue to Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council’s Trading Standards team, please call 0845 4040506
Things you should not do
- don’t let anyone into your home without seeing appropriate identification
- don’t feel under pressure from a cold-caller to pay an immediate up-front fee. Take the time you need to think about it. What’s the rush?
- don’t accept cold-caller’s claims about your band without seeing evidence or proof of what they are claiming. There is nothing wrong with being sceptical
- don’t speak to anyone who is reluctant to give you their company address or contact details