Warning About Tax Rebate Scam

Merton businesses have been targeted

Residents and businesses in Merton are being warned about a tax rebate scam which has been reported in the borough.

Merton Council's business rates team have received several calls from local organisations who are reporting suspicious phone calls and letters saying they are entitled to a business rate rebate.

Similar reports involving residents being told they are entitled to rebate for a small administration fee have also surfaced in other areas around the South East.

Merton Trading Standards are investigating one report after a business from Morden got in touch with them.

The company names itself as Maclaren & Fitch Ltd and bombards the business with calls. They then send a letter to the business stating they have entered into a contract with the company instructing them to submit an application to the Valuations Office Agency to have the current 2010 rateable value reduced. It then goes on to ask for payment and mentions court proceedings if the amount is not paid within seven days.

In many cases victims, for both business rate and council tax payers, are asked for credit card, bank or address details in order to make repayments.

Merton Trading Standards is calling for anyone being asked for these details over the phone to ensure that they do not under any circumstances give out this information.

Business rates and council tax can be reduced in certain circumstances but the council will not ask you for payment or credit card details in this way.

Councillor Mark Allison, Merton Council cabinet member for finance, said: "We need to make businesses and residents aware of these types of scams and would advise locals to be extra careful about giving out any personal details."

Merton Council's trading standards advisors can be emailed at trading.standards@merton.gov.uk or on 0208-545-4018, and Consumer Direct is on 08454-040506 or 0208-181-8956.

January 19, 2011