Midlothian Council’s Trading Standards team is warning residents about a couple of scams currently operating in the area.
The first one often comes in the form of an email telling householders they have overpaid their council tax and are due a refund. This scam claims to be from your ‘City Council’ and references the GOV.UK site. It also links to videos explaining how to get a refund and even states in the subject line ‘DO NOT REPLY’ to make it appear more like a legitimate email. The email suggests that the recipient will get a refund and proceeds to ask for personal financial details.
In the second scam, householders receive plastic bags through their letter box asking for donations of old clothes. The bags claim to be from charities that will give the clothing to people facing hardship. In reality the clothes are shipped to Eastern Europe and sold for profit.
Midlothian’s principal trading standards manager Stephen Thomson said: “The council tax refund emails being sent out to householders can appear authentic, due to the references to the GOV.UK website.
“However there are easy to spot clues that they are fake - for example the council is never referred to as ‘Midlothian Council but as a ‘City Council’. Please be warned that councils do not send out emails offering council tax refunds and asking for banking details.”
With regards to the clothing donations, he added: “I would suggest that unless you know without doubt that the bags are from known bona fide charities, you should hand unwanted clothes direct to a local charity shop or drop them off in clothing boxes at the civic amenity sites or supermarkets.”
If anyone is concerned that they might have been subjected to a scam and would like to report it or need advice, they can contact Midlothian Trading Standards on 0131 271 3549 or TradingStandards@midlothian.gov.uk