RESIDENTS of Malvern Hills and Wychavon are being warned to be on their guard against cold-callers urging people to pay out hundreds to review their council-tax bandings, when it can be done for free.

The two district councils issued the warning after residents reported receiving phone calls from companies claiming their property was in the wrong council-tax band, and they could investigate this for an up-front fee.

One resident paid £150 for someone to look into her banding after she received a phone call from a marketing company. After the payment was made, she called the number again but it went straight to voicemail.

All properties in England are given a council-tax band, which determines how much they pay, based on the price of the property in 1991.

However, it is possible some properties were put into the wrong bands due to errors made when council tax was introduced.

A check can be made online for free and in minutes or by writing to the Valuation Office Agency which is responsible for allocating council tax bands.

Vic Allison, deputy managing director at Wychavon, said: “Companies are acting in an unscrupulous way by trying to charge for a simple check that residents can do themselves online for free.

“Vulnerable residents are being targeted and unfortunately won’t be able to get their money back. We want people to be aware of this so they don’t unnecessarily part with their hard earned money."

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