MP Bill Esterson joins forces with Aintree Village Parish Counci

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and Aintree Village Parish Council chairman Cllr Peter Gill look into some of the complaints residents have made about the cold callers.



Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has joined forces with Aintree Village Parish Council to warn people about a company which is calling householders in East Sefton claiming they are due to up to £3,000 in overpaid council tax.

Aintree Village Parish Council has been contacted by a growing number of residents saying they had been contacted by "a very persistent legal company".

The company is telling residents that their home is likely to have been incorrectly banded for council tax back in 1991. Their home could be in a lower tax banding and the householder could therefore be in line for a huge back payment.

Once the resident agrees for the company to represent them, they are then told there is a charge of £160 for using their services and the company will take 25% of any money recovered.

If unsuccessful, the company guarantees to pay back £50 to the householder.

But residents can check their council tax banding free of charge by contacting the Valuation Office Agency themselves.

Aintree Village Parish Council chairman, Cllr Peter Gill, said the company appears to be targeting the elderly.

Cllr Gill said: "People need to be aware of this company. I've been contacted by seven people now, all of whom are older residents.

"They are being told they will be in line for potentially thousands of pounds in back payment because their home has been incorrectly banded back in the early 1990s.

"It looks as though this area in particular is being targeted because we have so many older people who could be more susceptible to the claims.

"People need to know that they can make the call themselves and save themselves what the company is essentially charging - and not have to share any potential payment you may be eligible to.

"But residents also need to be aware that the chances that your house was originally incorrectly council tax banded are no where near as great as the company is claiming. And if you do make the claim, there is as much of a chance that your house may be in too low a banding, particularly if you've made home improvements, such as extensions.

"I have made revaluation appeals for a number of Aintree Village residents over the years. It is not difficult to do. It is free. And it is certainly not worth paying for."

Bill Esterson said he had now been made aware of people throughout Sefton Central being targeted by similar cold callers.

Bill said: "Cllr Gill and his Aintree Village Parish Council colleagues have informed me that older people in Aintree Village are being targeted, but I have now also heard that people throughout my constituency are being targeted.

"Last week's letter in the Champion shows that people in Maghull are also receiving these calls.

"I am very concerned about this practice. The people who have reported the calls have talked about the pressure the companies are putting them under. It is this high pressure selling that we need to stop.

"While these calls are not illegal, I'd suggest they are immoral - particularly if they are targeting older, more vulnerable people."

The MP said anyone who would like to know more information about inquiring about revaluing their homes should contact the Valuation Office Agency on 03000 501 501 from 8.30am to 5pm, or visit the website on www.voa.gov.uk

Bill added: "You don't have to pay to revalue your house. But you do need to be aware that your home could be revalued into a higher banding, which would obviously cost you more.

"But either way, the service is free. If you get a call from a company offering you this service, just tell them thanks, but no thanks - and put the phone down."

 

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