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Council Tax re-band warning
Friday 16th November, 2012

At a time when household budgets are becoming increasingly stretched, many residents across the borough are looking at how they can make savings to their weekly outgoings.

But whilst certain ‘too good to be true’ money saving schemes can develop an irresistible allure, before you sign up to anything, do your homework!

That’s the message from Wigan Council’s Trading Standards team which has received a number of complaints from local people about cold-callers claiming they can help them apply for a reduction in their council tax bill.

“Some cold-callers prey on vulnerable residents and their operations are shady, if not outright scams,” says Julie Middlehurst, Trading Standards Manager. “Sometimes they might even claim to be from the council or working on our behalf.

“We recognise that there are some established businesses which now offer this service, for instance tax consultancies and law firms, so we are not stigmatising all providers or accusing them of fraud.

“But we do challenge their marketing techniques which target vulnerable or elderly residents and can sometimes involve high-press sales tactics, badgering people to agree to a home visit. We urge residents to seek impartial and expert advice before proceeding with any unsolicited sales pitches.”

Anthony Mohammed, Head of Citizen Support at Wigan Council, adds: “We are not disputing that there might sometimes be issues with properties featuring in the wrong council tax band, but it is very rare . If you think you are in the wrong tax band, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency who can look into your claim for free."

The latest advice is issued following numerous reports that some residents are handing over a substantial amount of money in 'administration fees' in the hope of being reimbursed any monies owed to them, and of having their property re-valued to a lower council tax band.

If you think your property is in the wrong council tax band, please contact the Valuation Office Agency in Manchester on 03000 503 600 or www.voa.gov.uk

To report incidents of bogus callers, call the Police on the new non-emergency number, 101.

For further advice, contact Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06 (calls charged at local rate)

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