HALTON council tenants have been warned to watch out for con men who contact them offering to help with the right to buy process.
The council's consumer protection service has discovered that firms are offering a complete right to buy service to tenants wishing to purchase their rented homes.
However, the sting comes when householders are charged £2,000 to £3,000 for services that amount to little more than helping to fill in forms and some legal advice.
Now tenants are being urged to think carefully before agreeing to pay over the odds.
A consumer protection spokesman warned: 'These forms are available free of charge from Halton Borough Council and you can get help filling them out from the council's right to buy officer, Citizens' Advice Bureau or Age Concern - none of which charge for this service.
'Local solicitors charge in the region of £400 to £600 for legal fees and will often assist with the application forms too.'
Teresa Tierney, acting operational director of housing, added: 'If you are approached by a person or a company offering a right to buy service, talk to the council's right to buy officer before signing up to any deal.
'If you don't, you could end up borrowing up to £3,000 on top of the money you need to buy your council house - and you'll be paying that back with interest over the life of your mortgage.'
Anyone who believes they 7515. have been misled by a right to buy company should contact the consumer protection service for advice on 0151 471
The council's right to buy officer can be contacted on 0151 471 7353. Right to buy forms can also be obtained from Halton's Direct Link at Concourse Level, Rutland House, Halton Lea, Runcorn, or 7 Brook Street, Widnes.