Action Fraud warns over energy bill rebate text scam

scam An illustration of an online energy bill. Energy prices will rise by �693 a year for millions of households after regulator Ofgem hiked the price cap on bills to �1,971 or 54%. Picture date: Thursday February 3, 2022.
Action Fraud has warned Britons about fake Ofgem text scam. Photo: PA

Action Fraud is warning energy customers not to fall victim to fake text scams with messages claiming to be from energy regulator Ofgem offering customers £400 off their bills.

The message encourages people to click a link, which directs them to a fake Ofgem-branded website where costumers are asked to enter personal details and set up a direct debit to receive the rebate.

Action Fraud said Ofgem or other bonafide organisations would never ask for details over text or email. They are asking anyone who receives this text to contact them.

This text message is a scam. Photo: Action Fraud
This text message is a scam. Photo: Action Fraud

Fraudsters are also targeting UK households via email, with Action Fraud saying it received 752 reports in just four days of fake emails pretending to be from Ofgem. The emails say the recipient is "eligible to apply for Energy Bill Rebate".

Action Fraud said: "The emails state that the recipient is eligible for a rebate as a result of a newly announced government scheme. The links in the emails lead to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal your personal and financial information."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the previous £200 energy bill rebate will be doubled to £400 and no longer has to be repaid.

Energy suppliers will send the money to households with a domestic electricity meter over six months, starting from October.

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Direct debit and credit customers will have the money credited to their account, while customers with pre-payment meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via a voucher.

In a council tax energy rebate scam, fraudsters claim to be associated with the council and explain a refund is due. They then ask for bank details in order to pay out the £150 rebate.

All households in bands A to D will be eligible for the rebate. Those who pay for council tax by direct debit will receive the government’s energy rebate directly into their bank account. If you don’t pay your council tax via direct debit then you will be sent a letter with details of how to claim the rebate.

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The Local Government Association has said councils will never ask for bank details over the phone and those who do not currently pay their council tax by direct debit, should wait to receive a letter from the council that will explain how to claim the rebate.

Which? said the safest thing to do is to source a contact number for that organisation from its website or a recent letter and contact them yourself to verify its authenticity.

Watch: Fraudsters are busy sending scam text messages