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Beware of bogus council tax claims
Wednesday 23rd January, 2013

People in Wigan Borough are being warned to ignore companies who claim they are owed money by the council.

Scores of residents – many of them elderly - have been contacted by firms claiming they are due a council tax refund. Some of these companies state they are working with Wigan Council to recoup their cash.

But council chiefs today said such claims were false and warned residents to reject any approach from a private firm. They stressed Wigan Council is not working with any company regarding council tax refunds. They added residents can find out for free if their council tax banding is wrong - without paying a commercial firm to find out for them.

In the last few weeks, Wigan Council has been told that elderly residents in particular are being targeted by firms claiming council tax changes mean they are owed huge sums. Residents are then asked for a fee upfront to pursue the financial claim and recoup the money.

However, council tax bandings are rarely altered and any change would generally affect a group of properties and would be well-publicised. Residents who want to know if they are paying the right amount, or if they are owed a refund, can find out by contacting the Valuation Office in Manchester who will investigate for free.

Cllr Ged Bretherton, Wigan Council cabinet member for corporate resources, says: “We urge residents who are approached to think very carefully before they hand over any money to these firms. Our staff, or any company we work with, would never make an approach like this so please be cautious. If you are uncertain, simply decline to answer the company’s questions and check it out with us.

“If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The people who have contacted us have been confused and some have ended up disappointed and out of pocket. If you are entitled to a refund, you will be contacted directly. If you wish to check your banding, or if you are owed a refund, you can do so for free. I find it particularly worrying these companies have been approaching the elderly and the vulnerable who may hand over money unnecessarily.”

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

To report incidents of bogus callers, call the Police on the new non-emergency number, 101. For further advice, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 (calls charged at local rate)

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