Martin Lewis urges everyone to do this check after man needlessly paid bills for 3 years | Personal Finance | Finance

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Martin Lewis has urged Britons to check their bank statements to make sure they are not needlessly paying for services they no longer use.

He said people should regularly check to make sure they do not have any direct debits set up going out from their account, for payments they no longer need to make.

He said on his BBC podcast: “At least once a year, preferable twice, get on to your online banking, and if you don’t bank online, ask them inside a branch, and just check what your direct debits and standing orders are.

“There’s also another type, called recurring payments, which are more difficult to find. That’s where you use your card number as opposed to using your bank account number, it could be a credit card, and you give a company permission to do regular payments.

“In all of them, you should be checking regularly whether money is dripping out that you don’t want.”

He gave the example of a cameraman on his show who did a check at his behest and realised he was paying council tax by direct debit on a property he had left three years ago.

Mr Lewis added that this was a “colossal waste of money, so it’s worth checking”.

A person may find they have direct debits set up for memberships and subscriptions they no longer use, such as a gym membership.

Mr Lewis has also encouraged people to check they are not overpaying on their council tax after a woman was successful into being put into a lower band.

The woman, named Zoe, wrote into his ITV show to say: “We have been in our home for 20 years and had always felt we were in the wrong council tax band.

“We tried years ago to get this remedied with no luck. After your advice we tried again earlier this year. To our delight we had success and were refunded around £7,000! Amazing!”

To check your council tax band, you will first need to compare your property with similar homes in your area, and to find out if they are in a lower band.

You will then need to find out how much your property was worth in 1991, when the council tax system was put in place. This second step is crucial to do before challenging your tax band, as if you don’t, your neighbours in similar properties could instead be moved up and end up paying more.

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Mr Lewis said previously: “My big warning: only do this if you pass both checks. The fact that you are in a higher band because of all your neighbours may be because they are in too low of a band.

“So if the valuation check is not completed, you may not get your band lowered, but everyone will get their band increased which won’t make you popular. But this is really important to do.”

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