TRADING standards watchdogs have repeated warnings about scammers targeting St Helens residents and offering to claim council tax ‘refunds’.

More residents have contacted the local authority after receiving unsolicited telephone calls from a firm who claim they can secure council tax refunds worth hundreds of pounds.

The scammer claim they can recoup benefits owed to residents – such as a single person’s allowance – or that properties have been in the wrong council tax band.

But with upfront fees of £125 to £150 demanded by the callers – along with 25 to 50 per cent of any money recovered – council officials are concerned about vulnerable residents paying for a service which can be done for free.

Watchdogs also warn residents who receive such calls never to give their card or bank details out over the phone.

Councillor Richard McCauley said: “You do not need to employ a company to claim back council tax overpayments.

“Anybody who thinks they have been paying more council tax than they should of can have their case reviewed - and it’s completely free.”

To enquire about benefits or refunds on council tax, residents should contact the council’s Revenue and Benefits Contact Centre on 01744 676666.

If residents believe their property is in the wrong council tax band, they need to contact the Valuation Office on 03000 501501.

Anyone approached by one of these companies – or who feels they might be the victim of a similar scam - should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.