Fraud is often seen as a cold crime against organisations, however there are real people who suffer due to the actions of fraudsters.
Council Tax Fraud
What is Council Tax fraud?
Council Tax fraud can occur where a taxpayer:
- falsely claims a discount or exemption to which they are not entitled to; or
- fails to notify the local authority promptly when their circumstances change.
This may include:
- claiming a discount for being the only adult resident, when there are actually other adults resident (who are not disregarded for Council Tax purposes);
- living in a property while claiming an exemption for it being empty;
- falsely claiming a student reduction or exemption;
- falsely claiming support under the Council Tax Reduction scheme, which may include failing to declare:
- income from earnings or other benefits;
- a partner or another adult is living in the property; or
- money held in bank accounts, savings and investments.
What are the costs due to Council Tax fraud?
Nationally it is estimated that between 4% and 5% of claims for discounts and exemptions are fraudulent with an annual loss of over £133 million.
How does this impact on you?
Every penny that is defrauded from the local authority (and the taxpayer), reduces the level of available funds that the Council can provide for services to the local community.
The Council takes all reports/allegations of Council Tax Fraud seriously. Upon investigation, if someone is found to have committed Council Tax fraud they may be prosecuted and may be required to pay back any fraudulent awards they have received.
Report your suspicions
Online at: forms.sefton.gov.uk/contactform
Call: 0151 934 4312
Housing Benefit Fraud
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for investigating all Benefit Fraud in Sefton. This includes:
- Income Support
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Disability Benefits
- Housing Benefit
Call: the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.
By Post: National Benefit Fraud Hotline, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 2BP
You can report any other suspected fraudulent activity to Sefton Council as above.
What happens next?
Sefton Council will treat your report with confidentiality and we will investigate it using the most appropriate methods. We will not be able to provide you with the details but rest assure we will take the action necessary to deal with the issue.
For any further information please go to the Action Fraud website.
Protect Against Fraud
It is important that we all look to protect ourselves against any fraudsters who take advantage of the convenience of buying online. There are lots of tips and advice on how to stay safe and avoid scams including:
- watch out for fake delivery emails. With so many packages being delivered, scammers may send out bogus links in emails seeming to be from legitimate delivery companies. Always track your packages through the company's website.
- be alert to e-voucher scams. These will often contain a link to a fake site that will ask you for your details. Look out for poor grammar and misspelt addresses, and if in doubt, contact the shop itself.
Take a look at takefive-stopfraud.org.uk for further details.