The Revenue Commissioners has issued a warning amid concerns of a possible local property tax (LPT) phone call scam targeting homeowners in Cork City.
There have been several reports in recent days of householders on the northside of the city receiving cold calls from individuals claiming to be phoning on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners.
The callers have told homeowners that they are in arrears with their LPT payments, are facing extra charges and penalties and could face court action. A demand for immediate payment over the phone is then made.
The callers have asked the homeowners to provide their credit or debit card details or other banking details, with a view to arranging a deduction directly from their bank accounts.
Cork’s deputy lord mayor, Kenneth O’Flynn, who raised the issue, warned people against giving their bank details over the phone, particularly to cold callers.
He told The Irish Examiner several constituents have expressed their concerns about these calls.
“I have been contacted in recent days by people living in Knocknaheeny, Farranree, and Ballyvolane seeking clarification about whether or not Revenue works this way,” said Mr O’Flynn.
“It seems as if whoever is behind this was targeting homes on the northside.
“One woman who contacted me was, by her own admission, not fully aware of her own local property tax liability.
“This call came out of the blue and she was told she was up to €400 in arrears and that she was facing back tax and charges.
“She was told it was so serious that if she didn’t sort out her tax issues there and then, she could face court action… This poor woman was so upset by the call, she actually feared she could lose her home if she didn’t pay up.”
However, a spokesperson for the Revenue Commissioners reassured homeowners that it does not make such unsolicited phone calls about the LPT, and stressed that Revenue never makes demands for credit or debit card details over the phone.
“If an individual has any concerns about the authenticity of the caller, they should call the LPT helpline on 1890 200 255,” she said.
“An individual can, of course, make a request to the helpline to make a payment by credit/debit card.”
The LPT came into effect in 2013 and is being administered by Revenue.
The annual self-assessed tax is charged on the declared value on May 1, 2013, of all residential properties in the State.
However, the charge for some homeowners changed this year after 14 local authorities voted to cut their LPT rate. The reductions ranged from 1.5% to 15%. Revenue said it would automatically adjust the rates.
Revenue did not write to anyone who paid their 2014 LPT by deduction at source or by direct debit. These payment methods would have automatically rolled over into 2015.
However, Revenue wrote to those who paid their 2014 LPT in one lump sum and to those who made regular payments by cash, to advise them of their 2015 liabilities.
The deadline for paying the 2015 LPT charge fell in January.