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How to Avoid Scammers' During the Cost of Living Crisis

Jul 05, 2022
Cost of Living

The cost-of-living crisis is putting a strain on many households. With energy bills soaring and fuel costs at an all-time high, it is a stressful time for many consumers.

The Government is giving a one-off council tax rebate payment to households in council tax bands A-D, and an energy support payment, to lend a helping hand.

Unfortunately, this is being used as an opportunity by scammers to take advantage of vulnerable people.

To help combat this, Barratt Homes has put together a guide on what you can expect from the Government, and what to look out for to avoid scammers. Plus, tips for saving money.


The council tax rebate payment

• The Government is giving households a one-off rebate of £150 to everyone who lives in a house that is in council tax band A-D

• You are eligible for this payment if the property is your main home

• You are still eligible even if you receive Local Council Tax Support

• The payment will be made from April 2022 and will not need to be paid back


How will I receive the payment?

Direct Debit customers

• If you live in an eligible property and pay your council tax by direct debit, your local council will make the payment directly into your bank account

• You shouldn’t need to do anything. However, if you don’t receive the payment, contact your local council to let them know


If you do not pay by Direct Debit

• If you don’t pay your council tax by direct debit, then you will need to fill in a form on your local council’s website to receive your rebate in one of the following ways:

• Payment into your bank account

• A voucher to be redeemed at the post office

• Credit applied to your council tax account

• A cheque in the post for you to cash with your bank

For further information or FAQ’S, you can read all the information regarding the rebate on the official Government website.


Energy Support Payment

• In addition to the council tax rebate, the government is supporting households with rising energy bills. The Energy Support Payment means that domestic electricity customers in England, Scotland, and Wales will receive a £400 grant which will appear as a credit from energy suppliers from October 2022.

• All households with a domestic electricity connection will be automatically eligible for the grant. Customers who pay on direct debit, by quarterly bills, and by pre-payment meters will be eligible.

• This grant does not need to be repaid. Households do not need to apply for the scheme and most electricity suppliers will automatically apply the reduction to bills from October 2022.

• Just like the council tax rebate, scammers will use this as an opportunity to gain access to people’s bank details. Nearer the time, information on how the energy suppliers will contact customers will be available.

• Like the council tax rebate, only official correspondence including instructions from your supplier should be followed. This will likely be in the form of a letter. As the deduction will likely be automatically applied to your account, you should not need to provide bank details.

• Be aware of scammers trying to encourage you to provide your bank details. Always ring your supplier on a number from a bill or their website to check, if you are unsure.


Beware of scammers

• Unfortunately, if there is money to be made from a government scheme, scammers could try to get their hands on your money.

• If you receive a text message, email or phone call asking for your bank details, it could be a scam.

• If your council does contact you, they will advise you to access the official government or local council website to fill in an application form. Do not click on any website links that are sent to you or give your bank details to someone who contacts you. Instead, it is best to either go onto your council’s website or call them directly to register for the scheme.

• If you are unsure, you can call your bank, a family member, or an advice line such as The Citizens’ Advice to check how you should apply for your rebate payment. It’s better to be safe, so if you feel suspicious about someone contacting you, don’t give out any personal information.


Top tips on keeping the cost of living down

While the rising utility bills, there are other ways we can try to cut down on our spending. Here are some top tips to keeping shopping costs down.


• Shop savvy – check-out supermarket own products. They are almost always cheaper and will not differ much in quality

• See if your supermarket or local shop sells fruit and veg boxes with wonky produce – it is always cheaper and tastes just as good

• Plan your meals in advance and buy exactly what is needed for meals; then think how you can use your leftovers – pasta, casseroles, stews, and curries are perfect ways to use up leftover items

• If you do your food shop in the evening, you will likely come across a lot of yellow-sticker items. This means they are reduced by up to three times their total cost. They are still fresh and just as tasty – and they can always go in your freezer

• When buying over-the-counter medicines, you can save up to a third by buying non-branded products

• Check-out discount shops, charity shops and pre-loved websites for clothes and furniture. You will be doing something good for the planet whilst saving money

• Turn down your radiators - and turn off radiators in rooms that you don’t use regularly - to save on your energy bills

• Make the most of summer by drying laundry outside rather than in your tumble dryer

• Quit subscriptions that you don’t use or can live without – paying off your credit card or overdraft sooner will help you to sleep easier.