The British Tax Refund Scam
As long as there are taxes to pay, there will be ways for charlatans to find ways around paying the taxes. In essence, tax scams have been around for as long as taxes have been introduced and in modern day Britain, things are no different.
One form of tax that is most common to fraudulent treatment is council tax. This system of local taxation used in England, Scotland and Wales based on residential property has most certainly had its fair share of cheats.
However, not all council tax scams are in the name of taking money from the tax system. Some are instead aimed at robbing ordinary people and the tax refund scam falls into the latter category.
Tax Refund Scam
The scam works by fraudsters contacting you and politely informing you that you’re due a financial reward as an expression of gratitude for paying your council tax by direct debit.
Done via phonecall or email, the person on the other end claims to be from the Council Tax Head Office in London and informs you that in order to receive your refund (worth several hundred pounds) you must provide some personal information, including your bank account details.
I think we all know where this is going…
The reality is the Council Tax Head Office in London doesn’t exist, and while it seems a pretty obvious scam, it nonetheless fools a fair share of Brits.
The fraudsters, once given all the information they need, will be able to access your bank account and do what they want with it.
Avoiding the Tax Refund Scam
Avoiding the Tax Refund Scam is simple. You must simply be aware that your local council or tax authorities won’t cold call, email or even text you asking for your bank details. If you’re due any type of refund or required to pay anything, you will be contacted through the post with an explanation of the situation.
If you receive a letter which you think may be a scam, there are a number of specialist companies working to discern whether or not you’re due any tax refund, such as RIFT Tax Refund. Contact them to work out whether you are owed anything by the State or whether you’ve been another victim of a tax scam.
If you do receive such a phonecall, hang up immediately. Do not ring back and if you’re rung back yourself then simply do not answer, or hang up again!
If you receive an email or text, do not reply.
Daniel Winters is a British freelance writer and lawyer