Bury Trading Standards is advising residents to consider carefully phone calls from callers claiming that they can get them into a lower Council Tax band or obtain a refund.
A company is currently in the Bury area making unsolicited calls to residents. They tell them they may be in the wrong council tax band and they might be able to obtain a refund for them, in return for a fee and a percentage of any council tax reduction received.
An officer from Bury Trading Standards said: “We have received dozens of phone calls from the public about this: one resident believed he was speaking to someone from the town hall.
“It is not the council that makes decisions about what council tax band your house should be in – that is decided by the Valuation Office Agency, which is part of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Residents should also be aware that council tax bandings, when challenged, can sometimes go up as well as down.
“Many people will be unaware that they can apply to have their council tax band reviewed completely free of charge. This can be done by contacting the local VOA office on 0845 602 1507 or by visiting their website www.voa.gov.uk. Staff at the VOA are happy to discuss any council tax matter or concern with anyone who makes contact but cannot discuss anyone else’s individual case.”
Councillor Tony Isherwood, cabinet member for environment, said: “It is not illegal for a company to charge a fee for making the application on your behalf, but residents should be aware of their options. If you feel you have been misled by anyone calling to say you are entitled to a reduction in your council tax then you can report the matter to Trading Standards on 08454 040506.”
* Anyone who does not wish to be 'cold-called' on the telephone can register with the telephone preference service, which is free. Call 0845 070 0707 or visit www.tpsonline.org.uk.
Press release issued: 24 July 2013.