Let me introduce you to Crazy Aidy, my friendly, but odd, neighbour. Something weird is always happening to Adrian. This time, Aidy has some suspicions about a tax bill.
Me: Hello, Aidy. What can I do for you?
Aidy: Do you mind if I use your phone? Mine’s been cut-off.
Me: Not at all. Come in.
Aidy: I need to call the fraud prevention hotline.
Me: Oh no, you’ve not been the victim of a fraud, have you? How awful!
Aidy: Oh no. Someone tried to defraud me, though, and I should inform the authorities so they can be stopped and people warned. I mean, I wouldn’t fall for a thing like that, I’m far too careful, but someone a bit less street-wise might. Look at the letter, it’s quite professional.
Me: It does look professional, it’s just like one I’ve received from the Council. How did you know it was fake?
Aidy: I get one every year, about this time. The first time, several years back, I was fooled.
Me: Oh no, did they take your money?
Aidy: Actually, no. I forgot to pay and after that I heard nothing more about it, but they sent a letter the next year, asking for more. And the next, and the next, each time asking for more, so I realised it must be a scam.
Me: But, Aidy, the letter looks real.
Aidy: I know, they’re good, aren’t they? Last year it was all in red with ‘warning’ written on it, and this time with ‘final warning’, and threats to send in the bailiffs and a ‘court summons’.
Me: No, I mean, I don’t think it is a scam; you’re obliged to pay your Council Tax, and this is the official letter. And look, this court summons is signed by a judge…it’s real.
Aidy: Then why is it so much more each year?
Me: Well, it appears to be cumulative. If you don’t pay tax for the year, they add it to next years’ bill, and so on, and so on.
Aidy: Oh! Well, can I use your phone anyway to pay it?
Me: Yeah, go ahead.
Aidy: It’s a bit of a shame it’s not a fraud.
Me: Really? I thought you’d be relieved.
Aidy: Well, if I’m honest, I was quite excited about getting the chance to go to Court, and giving evidence in front of a judge…everyone in wigs…and gowns…
Me: Well, I wouldn’t worry about that, Aidy. From what it says on this Court summons, if you can’t convince them that this was a misunderstanding, you might still get that chance.