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Consumers Targeted by Scammers Advertising Energy Efficiency Grants

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Consumers are instructed to watch out for scammers fraudulently promoting the Green Homes Grant scheme to trick them into providing personal details.

Fraud prevention service Cifas says it’s heard of a surge of calls from fraudsters telling homeowners they’re eligible for £5,000 grants to make energy efficiency improvements at home.

The cheats direct unwitting homeowners to an online application that requests their personal details. Criminals will likely use any information you provide there to steal your money or identity, Cifas warned.

The government is launching a £2 billion efficiency upgrade programme, as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Mini-Budget and coronavirus relief package announced earlier this month. The scheme will offer households vouchers of up to £5,000 to pay for at least two-thirds of home improvements which can cut your home’s energy consumption—and thus your energy bills and carbon emissions. Qualifying improvements include loft and wall insulation, double-glazing and new boilers.

The lowest-income households, which are disproportionately likely to be energy inefficient and to experience fuel poverty, can qualify for up to £10,000 of grants to fund improvements.

The Treasury estimates that households will save an average of £600 on their energy bills by becoming more energy efficiency. The scheme will also provide work for skilled tradespeople and reinvigorate the struggling economy.

However, the scheme won’t launch until September and will be administered through a government website. The site will provide homeowners with a list of accredited local tradespeople and suppliers who can complete the qualifying upgrades. Vouchers will only be issued when one of these suppliers have produced a quote and the work has been approved.

So anyone directing you to sign up today and sending you to a third-party site is trying to trick you, Cifas cautioned.

Age UK echoed the warning. “There is no cold calling involved,” the charity said in a statement. “It is up to the homeowner to make the approach, so instantly you know it’s a scam if you are contacted out of the blue.”

Amber Burridge, head of fraud intelligence for Cifas said: "Stop and think carefully before responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails, and always challenge requests for personal or financial information.”

The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), the association for tradespeople and firms which install double-glazing, has also heard reports of crooks targeting homeowners by phone, email and door to door, advertising the scheme and dropping GGF’s name. GGF said the scams had been reported in Suffolk, Stoke on Trent and in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.

James Lee, director of external affairs at GGF, said: "This crime is particularly heartless given what homeowners have gone through and are still enduring with COVID-19. It also further damages consumer confidence in local businesses who are trying to recover from the double blow of a recent lengthy lockdown and the damage caused by the Government’s premature announcement of the Green Homes Grant Scheme.”

If you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your bank or card provider immediately. You should also alert Action Fraud and the police.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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