Warning to Yorkshire residents as new scam hits region claiming people have paid too much council tax

Householders across Yorkshire are facing a "barrage" of council tax scams offering bogus refunds or threatening fines, town hall leaders have warned.

Householders across Yorkshire are facing a "barrage" of council tax scams offering bogus refunds or threatening fines, town hall leaders have warned.

Fraudsters are targeting people via text, email and phone, stating they have either paid too much council tax and are due a refund, which they offer to claim on their behalf for a "fee", or demand payment arrears.

Another scam aims to convince people their property is in the wrong council tax band and offers to secure a refund, again in return for payment.

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Fees of £150 have been quoted in the scams which falsely claim to be from local councils or the Valuation Office Agency in a bid to appear official.

Some also use the Government's GOV.UK branding in text messages and often include a link to a fake website to claim the refund.

Simon Blackburn, chair of the Local Government Association's safer and stronger communities board, said: "Cold-hearted criminals are using more convincing council tax scams which are being sent out barrage-style and reported by local authorities all across the country.

"These council tax scams can damage people's lives, both financially and emotionally, and anyone can be fooled by them, especially if they appear to look official.

"Anyone who is contacted about a council tax refund or assessment over their council tax band which includes a request for personal information and bank details should ignore it and report it.

Spoof taxman phone call scams being defeated by new controls"Councils will never phone, text or email residents to ask for a payment to release a council tax refund or ask for personal bank details.

"Most fraud is preventable if individuals and businesses follow simple advice, but victims shouldn't suffer in silence or feel embarrassed. By reporting a scam, people can help someone else avoid being a victim."

The warning comes as one Yorkshire police force has launched a year long campaign to help the public fight back against fraudsters

Every day, £23,000 is lost to fraudsters operating in the Humberside Police force area.

The force is hosting a number of fraud roadshow events across the area every month over the next year where they will share stories from real victims to help prevent others falling for the same tricks.

Fraudsters target Yorkshire's most vulnerable to steal a staggering £30m in just six monthsDetective Sergeant Ben Robinson said: “Tackling fraud and protecting the most vulnerable people in our society is a key priority for us.

“Whilst these heartless fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated in the way they deceive people, it only takes a few simple steps to stay safe and protect yourself and those that you care about.

“We want to give people the tools and knowledge to spot frauds and scams so they have the confidence to speak up and report things to us and Action Fraud.”

Almost all frauds now use computers or technology in some way, with criminals taking advantage of the anonymity of the online world to steal from their victims.

The 10 scams people in Yorkshire need to be aware ofIn many cases criminals will search the internet to find insecure devices, send emails containing malicious software and set up fake websites.

The campaign is supported by the High Sheriff of the East Riding of Yorkshire, Sue Stephenson.

She said: “As High Sheriff my particular focus this year is the wellbeing and protection from crime of older people, with one third of victims of fraud in our area aged between 60 and 79.”

“Victims of fraud do not only suffer financial loss, but are often left coping with the emotional trauma of being tricked by someone they had come to trust. These fraudsters do not care what happens to their victims, they ruthlessly prey not only on the most vulnerable, but also the most trusting.

“Few of us can say we have never been targeted by a scam, the aim of this campaign is to do what we can to recognise the warning signs and prevent ourselves and loved ones becoming victims. I am proud to champion this excellent campaign by Humberside Police and to give it my full support."