STUDLEY and Alcester residents are being warned to be vigilant as an identity theft phone scam has been reported in the district.

Stratford-on-Avon District Council is warning residents not to be taken in by a company claiming to be acting on behalf of the district council.

Residents have informed the district council that GSM Marketing has called them and is charging a £150 up-front fee, which is taken from residents’ bank accounts, in return for lowering their council tax band.

Cllr Tony Jefferson, leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council said: “This is not a phone call from Stratford-on-Avon District Council - do not give anyone your bank account details. Council tax bands are set by the Valuation Office Agency and can only be changed under certain conditions. Even the district council can’t change your council tax band.

“If you have given over personal details, we would advise you call the Police straight away on 101 and report the matter as an identity theft scam. The Police will also direct you to the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.”

The district council’s corporate fraud office urges people to remain vigilant and to report suspicious incidents to as well as adding: “Scams are becoming more and more sophisticated. Opportunists are coming up with new and quite innovative ways to fool people into giving up their hard earned cash, personal information or other data.

“Many fall victim to scams. Scams can look so credible and sound so plausible. And yet we don’t talk about it, even though talking about it raises awareness of scams and is one of the best ways of preventing these crimes.”