There are reports of fraudsters contacting people and pretending to be energy regulator Ofgem and trying to access their bank details.
The scammers are requesting bank details under the guise of paying them the £150 council tax rebate that is being issued by the Government.
Ofgem has issued advice for how to avoid being scammed.
Here’s what you need to know.
How do I identify the Ofgem scam?
If anyone claiming to be Ofgem asks for your bank details this is a red flag.
Ofgem says: “Ofgem would never ask for your bank details with regards to energy bills.”
The energy regulator has warned fraudsters may try to contact people in the following ways:
- Knocking at your door
- Phone call
- Social media
- Pop-up message on a website
- Instant message
- Text message
Ofgem says: “These are energy scams. Ofgem would never sell you energy, ask for personal information or come to your property.”
- Reject, refuse or ignore contact from “Ofgem” that looks or sounds unusual, such as a request for your bank or personal details. We never ask for this information
- Check email addresses. Any emails to or from Ofgem always end @ofgem.gov.uk
- Check branding. The Ofgem logo will always be present in our communications. It should never look stretched, blurry or distorted
- Only criminals will try to rush or panic you
If you pay your council tax by direct debit and are eligible for the rebate you will receive it automatically.
If you do not pay by direct debit you should be contacted by your council, and not Ofgem.
How do I report a scam?
If you think you have been scammed, or that someone has tried to scam you, you should report it to Action Fraud, the reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101.
If you have given any of your personal information like your bank details, contact your bank immediately for help.
Who can claim the council tax rebate?
The council tax rebate is being paid to households whose home was in council tax bands A to D in England on 1 April – this affects around 20 million homes, including 95 per cent of rented properties.
This criteria has been mirrored in Scotland, and the Welsh Government is offering similar terms for its own scheme, too.
If you live in England or Wales you can find out your council tax band by entering your postcode into the Government website here.
You can also use this service to challenge your council tax band if you think it is wrong.
Those who live in Scotland will need to use the Scottish Assessors website.
If occupants of a property in bands A-D are exempt from council tax on 1 April 2022, they will qualify for the rebate if the property falls in one of the following classes of exemption:
- Class N (students – other than Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) for council tax purposes)
- Class S (under-18s)
- Class U (people with a severe mental impairment),
- Class W (annexes occupied by a dependent relative)
Your council tax band is based on the price the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991 in England and Scotland, and 1 April 2003 in Wales.
In England bands A to D cover properties with a value of up to £88,000, in Scotland the upper limit is £58,000 and the threshold for Wales is £123,000.
When will I get my council tax rebate?
The roll-out of the council tax rebate began in April 2022, as per the timeframe announced by the Government in February, so with any luck yours should be paid soon.
If you are eligible to receive it you should not have to apply for the payment, so long as you pay your bill by direct debit.
It should instead be automatically be credited to your account, with the rebate rebate provided as a separate payment, rather than as part of your council tax bill.
The Government stated in its official guidance: “All Council Tax Rebate grants should be paid as soon as possible from April.”
That advice also states that councils have until 30 September 2022 to process the rebate, and reports suggested that only a minority of areas received the payment in April.
The delays left some residents furious, with David Hodgkins, 40, from Huddersfield telling i: “I am frustrated at the wait and poor excuses for reasons for not paying and then moving the goal posts.
“I feel sadly the Government is not doing enough and are protecting the big companies from tax hikes, which affects all of us working class people.”