Workshops warned over business rates relief scam

Fraudulent emails threatening legal proceedings are currently circulating garage businesses

Workshops warned over business rates relief scam
Image: Bigstock.

Business rate fraudsters are attempting to take money from garage owners, the Independent Garage Association (IGA) has said.

A number of garage owners have reported an email which asks for the previous year’s rate relief funds, threatening legal proceedings if the “balance due” is left unpaid.

According to example seen by the IGA, the emails detail a falsified contract signed by the business, and can include a fictitious previous contract sent date.

The emails also emphasise that the money due is not as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Warning its members, the IGA said: “The email can be addressed to the business director by name, so please be aware of unfamiliar companies asking to speak business directors or partners.

“This is not an email from the UK government or your local authority, so you should be cautious if you are unaware of external contracts regarding business rates.”

“Hi DIRECTOR NAME,

I hope you are safe and well.

As you are aware we claimed retail relief discount on your premises at LOCATION . This reduced your business rates liability by 1/3 last year.

For the 20/21 bill you will pay £0 business as the relief is worth 100% this year.

I must stress this reduction is nothing to do with Covid-19. Because you are getting retail discount you are also entitled to a £10,000 government grant to help the business through Coronavirus, of course we do not charge you for this as it’s automatic by the government.

Unfortunately our invoice still remains unpaid. I appreciate it’s difficult times for everyone at present but to be fair our invoice was sent to you on the 1st February well before the lock-down due to Covid 19.

As per the agreement you signed on 19.07.2017 you are under contract with County Estates for all business rates reductions until the end of the 2017 rating list. (Which ends at the end of this financial year).

I’m shocked and disappointed to say that our invoice of £1,247.67 still remains unpaid.

With regret, unless full payment is received in cleared funds by 5pm today we will have no alternative but to start legal proceedings.

This will add extra costings and a potential CCJ against your company.

I trust this is just an oversight and you will now settle our invoice.

Best Wishes

NAME

COMPANY

TELEPHONE NUMBER

An example of a recent email sent to an IGA member.

To report a scam to the UK authorities, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or fill in an online report.

IGA members are also encouraged to report scams to its membership helpline number or by emailing [email protected].

For further information about the IGA, select ‘more details’ below.

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