Residents are being warned to be on their guard against a new email scam that promises people a refund on their council tax bills.
Criminals are sending out so-called “phishing” emails using an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) email address that tells people they are due a council tax refund. The emails are designed to capture sensitive financial information from victims, either by taking them to a fake website or by downloading malicious software on to computers that allow the fraudsters to track and trace people’s internet usage. Armed with these details the fraudsters can then begin to harvest people’s bank accounts. People who receive this email should delete it straight away without accessing any web links or downloading any files it contains.
Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Cllr Stephen Speak, said:
“We are concerned that these scammers are targeting residents and we, together with the police, try to keep people aware of the wide range of scams. The details of scams often change and so we cannot cover every eventuality but these emails are a con. Council Tax issues are dealt with by the Council – not HMRC. So, if you are contacted by anyone purporting to be from HMRC about your Council Tax, you should smell a rat.
“Indeed, any email or phone call making any unsolicited offer of money or help should be treated with skepticism.
“If you are on the receiving end of any scam, please report it.”
Anyone affected by this, or any other scam, should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk
They can also report it to the Met Police’s ‘Fraud Alert’ website. This is designed to equip the public with the tools they need to protect themselves against fraud.
It is regularly updated with information about the latest tricks and scams and contains tips and advice on how to avoid being conned. For more information visit www.met.police.uk/fraudalert.