Warning to energy customers over government rebate scam

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The energy regulator has issued a warning for customers to be on the lookout for a scam targeting vulnerable Australians with the promise of a rebate on their power bills.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) says a dodgy caller is ‘claiming to be an AER employee, requesting bank details and other private information to deposit a Government rebate for power due to the current coronavirus pandemic’.

“If a consumer receives contact from the AER, it’s important to know we will never ask for your bank details,” said AER Chair Clare Savage.

“Anyone who receives such a call should not provide any personal or financial information and hang up immediately. We are taking this scam seriously and it has been reported to the ACCC.”

Any suspicious or unusual contact can be reported directly to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) ScamWatch website.

For a full list of concessions and rebates available in each state, visit the links below:

Previous Energy Scams

In 2016, energy giant AGL was caught up in a sophisticated email scam whereby malicious malware was used to gain access to private customer details via an email link. Other retailers have also fallen victim to this kind of email bill scam.

The ACCC also reported in 2018 that scammers impersonated energy and telecommunications providers, demanding payments for fake bills, which resulted in losses exceeding thousands of dollars.

It’s a timely reminder for Aussies to be protective of their information and to remain vigilant about suspect phone calls, said Canstar Blue Editor-in-Chief, Simon Downes.

“The scammers use these methods because it can be difficult to tell a genuine phone call or email from a fake one. The general rule is to never hand over any sensitive information, like banking details until you’re certain about who you’re talking to,” Mr Downes said. “If in doubt, hang up and dial the company back on the phone number you find on its website. If you can’t find it, ask someone for help doing so.”

Image credit: Roobcio/Shutterstock.com

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