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Warning over email scammers who are asking for residents' bank details

Published: Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Stroud District Council has issued an urgent warning to residents about an online scam which asks them for their bank details.

Emails purporting to be from ‘Stroud City Council’ – which is a false title - have been sent to householders, telling them they have been overpaid and are due a refund by clicking on a link. That link leads to a page asking them to fill in their personal and bank details.

However Stroud District Council does not ask for bank details to be filled in online for council tax refunds.

One of the latest scam emails states: “You have an overpayment_city_council_return due, for late 2017.

If you need a refund from us, take a look at the following short videos:

  • What if I had an overpayment City Council tax bill?

You can also get your refund by direct debit. Visit GOV.UK for the information you need.

If you’ve already get your refund by post – thank you.”

Links in the text lead to a form where personal and bank details are asked for – on no account should anyone fill these forms in.

“Sadly these types of fraud are all-too-common and while many people will identify them as scams, it only takes one person to be taken in and the fraudsters can clear out a bank account,” said Stroud District Council revenue and benefits manager Simon Killen.

“Stroud District Council does not ask for bank details online for council tax refunds. We are grateful to residents who have told us about this scam.”

It comes as Action Fraud issued national warnings about fraudsters who are pretending to be from local councils or the HMRC.

People are receiving cold calls and emails about a council tax overpayment from individuals who fraudulently say they work for a local council. The emails often contain phishing links, which direct the recipient to a website where they will be asked to provide personal data.

Action Fraud has also experienced an increase in the reporting of malicious calls, voicemails, text messages or emails to members of the public which appear to originate from HMRC.

The fraudsters state that as a result of their non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable to prosecution or other legal proceedings such as repossession of belongings to settle the balance but can avoid this by arranging for payment to be made immediately by method such as bank transfer or by iTunes gift cards.

If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs or - in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin - deportation.

Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact.

What you need to do: Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn't mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.

Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher.

Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.

Report Phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, please report it via www.actionfraud.police.uk

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