Another day, another scam we need to watch out for. And this time it’s been brought to our attention by consumer money expert and resident This Morning financial agony uncle, Martin Lewis.
The money expert issued a warning to households who are expecting to receive the £150 council tax rebate this year.
The rebate is available to all households in council tax bands A to D in England, Scotland and Wales to help families cover the rising cost of energy bills amid the cost of living crisis. Councils must pay the money to those who are eligible by 30 September this year, but some have already started to make payouts.
Sadly, though unsurprisingly, scam artists have been using the government scheme as an opportunity to steal people’s bank details, and the Money Saving Expert is urging people to be wary of cold callers claiming to be from the council asking people to hand over their bank details to seemingly be paid the £150 rebate.
Several councils have already issued warnings to residents over council tax rebate scams, which see fraudsters ask for bank details over the phone.
How will the council tax rebate actually be paid?
Kevin Mountford, savings expert and co-founder of Raisin UK, explains: ‘In the Spring Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a rebate which will see many households receive a council tax rebate of £150 this spring, with hopes to alleviate some of the pressure from rising living costs.
‘It’s super easy to check if you are eligible, all you have to do is find out which council tax band your property falls under which can be easily worked out through the Government website.’
He also stresses that it is key to understand that ‘you do not need to apply for the rebate’: ‘You will receive your rebate as a one-off payment, made directly by local authorities. If you pay council tax by direct debit, the £150 one-off payment will automatically be credited to your account! If you don’t pay council tax by direct debit, your local council should be in touch to arrange the payment.’
‘The council tax rebates have been given at different times according to which council you come under, with some getting their council tax rebates from as early as April 1st. But, if you haven’t got your rebate yet, do not panic as the local authorities are still working on them.’
What to do if you’re worried you’ve been a victim of this scam
‘It’s important to note your local authority will never ask for bank details over the phone. If you receive a phone call but don’t think it’s genuine, the best advice is to hang up and ring the council through their official number on a different phone. You can then ask to confirm if it was them calling you up,’ Kevin explains. ‘If you have given details over, make sure to contact your bank immediately who will be able to give fraud support and most likely freeze your account.’
He adds: ‘You should also report the scam to Action Fraud, who can be contacted on 0300 123 2040 or via their website.’