St Helens Council’s Trading Standards team is warning residents about businesses targeting local people and offering to claim back council tax refunds.
Several residents contacted the council after receiving unsolicited telephone calls from people offering to check their property is in the correct council tax banding and then to pursue any possible refunds on the householders behalf.
But with upfront fees of up to £180 demanded by the callers – along with sometimes 25 to 50 per cent of any money recovered – council officials are concerned about vulnerable residents paying for a service that can be done for free.
Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Green, Smart and Sustainable Borough, said: “The message is simple – do not pay for this service! You do not need to employ a company to claim back council tax overpayments! Anybody who thinks they have been paying more council tax than they should have can have their case reviewed – and it’s completely free!”
To enquire about benefits or refunds on council tax, residents should contact the council’s Revenue and Benefits Contact Centre on 01744 676666. If residents believe their property is in the wrong council tax band, they need to contact the Valuation Office on 03000 501501.
Trading Standards Officers are urging residents who receive unsolicited telephone calls never to give their card or bank details out over the phone.
Darrell Wilson, Chief Trading Standards Officer added: “It is worth remembering if anyone does agree to use the revaluation services offered they have, by law, up to 14 days to change their mind.”