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Have you received a fake council tax refund?

PUBLISHED: 13:02 18 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:02 18 February 2019

Some fraudsters are promising hundreds of pounds in fake refunds to unsuspectiong residents Picture: LUDHI85/GETTY IMAGES

Some fraudsters are promising hundreds of pounds in fake refunds to unsuspectiong residents Picture: LUDHI85/GETTY IMAGES

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Council tax refunds could well be scams warns Colchester Borough Council as fake calls and emails are on the rise.

Trading Standards say you should never give away personal or financial details over the phone Picture: HIGHWAYSTARZ/GETTY IMAGESTrading Standards say you should never give away personal or financial details over the phone Picture: HIGHWAYSTARZ/GETTY IMAGES

Spam emails and phone texts alerting residents to a potential tax refund have been reported to the council’s Trading Standards office.

Many of the messages bear email addresses falsely claiming to be sent from GOV.UK and HMRC and are arriving at the same time council tax bills are being delivered.

The council is clear that the messages are not genuine, links should not be followed and no personal information should be given.

How can I tell a fake message from a real one?

The council advises people to look out for any strange sender addresses, fake logos or spelling mistakes, which indicate the email or text is bogus.

Low-quality images or poor formatting are often a sign that a message has been faked.

Many fraudsters will ask for personal information straight away or use pressure-based tactic like limited-time offers to make victims act without due diligence - always check the credentials of someone who calls and never hand over personal details if you are contacted.

David King, portfolio holder for resources, said: “The internet has become one of the most popular tools used to commit fraud, and criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated with their hacking techniques.

“As a result, we want to help our residents stay safe from fraudsters who are potentially trying to take financial information or hack into devices.

“Be very careful responding to unsolicited messages from an unfamiliar source about your council tax and, above all, if you have any doubts about who sent it, please contact our council tax team.

“For general advice on staying safe online, residents can also check out our ‘get safe online’ website.”

If you are in any doubt, please call Colchester Borough Council on 01206 282300 or email council.tax@colchester.gov.uk.

If you have been affected by fraud you can also contact the police on 101 or the Action Fraud team on 0300 123 2040.

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