Criminals are cold-calling householders asking for bank details to receive the Government’s £150 energy rebate, councils have warned.
The Government announced the rebate support earlier this year in response to soaring energy bills, with payments administered by local authorities for all households in council tax bands A to D.
Councils have urged residents to be alert to the scam, stressing they would never ask for bank details over the phone.
All households that pay council tax by direct debit will receive the payment directly into their bank account.
Those who do not pay their council tax by direct debit will be sent a letter with details of how to claim.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said anyone who unexpectedly receives a text, email or phone call seeking information or payment should not give out personal information, including bank details, click any links or respond until they can be sure it is genuine.
If in doubt, householders should find the details online of the organisation claiming to be in contact and check with them directly.
The pandemic saw a sharp increase in scams, which included promises of a payment from HM Revenue and Customs to support individuals during the lockdown or offers of a vaccination booking for a fee.
Mohan Iyengar, vice-chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Councils are working hard to ensure eligible residents receive their energy rebate payments as soon as possible, however criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to take advantage of the financial worries people are facing and as a result many of these scams look legitimate on first impression.
“Anyone can fall victim to a scam, and we urge people of all ages to brush up on the tell-tale signs, and the support available to those who need it.
“If you get sent a message that you believe to be fraudulent, you can report it to your mobile phone provider or by forwarding the message to 7726, a free reporting service provided by phone operators.
“You should also report the scam to Action Fraud to help others avoid falling victim in the future.”