Residents are being warned to be in their guard against a new sophisticated fraud that promises victims a Council Tax reduction because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The scam, which has been seen in other parts of London, but not yet in Richmond, uses what appear to be official council letters complete with logos, which direct victims to a fake website that is designed to harvest people’s sensitive personal data.

Offering recipients a Council Tax reduction, the letters invite people to visit what appears to be a government-style website - and provides a six digit log in code. When people enter that code, their address appears and they are then invited to answer a series of questions that discloses sensitive personal information that would be of key use to fraudsters.

Cllr Robin Brown, Lead Member for Finance at Richmond Council, said:

“This is a fairly sophisticated and convincing attempt at fraud and while we haven’t yet seen any cases in Richmond, we are raising the alarm to try and prevent our residents from being fleeced by these confidence tricksters.

“If we write to someone to notify them of a change in their Council Tax bills we would always write to the account holder - the person who pays the bill - and not as is the case here simply address it to ‘The Occupant’.

“And we would not ask for any sensitive information like dates of birth or people’s bank account details.

If anyone living in the borough receives this kind of letter, it is almost certainly fraudulent and should be ignored. If people want further reassurance they can always email counciltax@richmond.gov.uk, call 0208 891 1411 or contact the service via the Council’s website.

– from a Richmond Council press release - 16 September 2020