Households should ignore scam emails WRONGLY telling them to claim council tax rebates from energy regulator Ofgem
Beware scam emails wrongly telling you to click a link to sign up for both a council tax rebate and an energy bill discount. It comes as MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) has received several reports from individuals who've received these emails. Here's what you need to watch out for.
The email, which is branded with the energy regulator's logo, tells recipients they have until 1 June 2022 to claim an energy bill discount worth £200 and a non-repayable council tax rebate of £250. It encourages people to click a link, which directs them to a fake Ofgem-branded website where you're asked to enter your personal details and set-up a direct debit to receive your council tax rebate.
But Ofgem has confirmed to MSE that the email and the website are both scams. A spokesperson for Ofgem told us: "We take these attempts to exploit consumers very seriously and we’ve already reported this malicious incident to the National Cyber Security Centre which will investigate further. We have also alerted our consumer contacts and posted across our social media channels, advising people to be vigilant.”
We've also reported the bogus email and website to the National Cyber Security Centre and the Public Domain Registry in the hope that it'll be taken offline to prevent people from being caught out.
See our 30 ways to stop scams guide for info on how to watch out for scams, and what to do if you've been stung.
You CAN'T claim the energy bill discount or council tax rebate from Ofgem
The Government announced a £350 per household support package in February to help people get through the current cost of living crisis. This included an energy "loan not loan" and a council tax rebate. Here's how the two schemes actually work and how to get them - which in neither case is via Ofgem:
- Household electricity suppliers across Great Britain will deduct £200 from energy bills in October. This rebate will then be repaid in instalments of £40 a year from all households' energy bills over the next five years from April 202. See our video explainer on how this works.
- Local authorities in England will distribute council tax rebates worth £150 (NOT £250 as stated in the scam email) between 1 April and 30 September 2022 to households in council tax bands A-D. To find out more, see our full council tax rebate MSE News story. We've also been notified of several phone and text scams relating to the scheme - so be alert.
Here's the scam email and website to beware of
Below we've included some snippets of the scam email and the associated website, so you know what to watch out for:
If you receive a scam email, report it to the 'Suspicious Email Reporting Scheme'
If you notice a website that doesn't look quite right, you can also report it to the National Cyber Security Centre by pasting the URL into its online form.
Any suspicious activity will then be looked into and potentially shut down or blocked.
If you're worried you've been scammed, here's what to do:
Below is a checklist of what you should do if you think you've been scammed:
- If you've already responded to a scam, end all further communication immediately.
- Call your bank directly and cancel any recurring payments – for speed and ease, you can alternatively call the 159 hotline.
- Report the scam to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or report a scam anonymously on the Action Fraud website. If you're in Scotland, report a scam through Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or on the Advice Direct Scotland website. You can also report scams to Police Scotland on 101.
- If you wish to seek further help, contact Citizens Advice Scams Action via the Citizens Advice website, or call its Scams Action helpline on 0808 250 5050.