Scams targeting homeowners with promises about the Green Homes Grant scheme started appearing just days after the new home energy efficiency scheme was announced by the government.
Some homeowners have received scam calls, emails and texts telling them that they are eligible for the grants, while other scams have claimed to offer specific energy-saving measures such as insulation. Particular scams we’re aware of include:
- Phone calls to people living in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, from scammers pretending to be part of the new scheme and offering loft insulation
- Phone calls telling Suffolk residents that they were eligible for the grant, which have reported to Suffolk Trading Standards
- Police Scotland Safer Communities team is warning people about scam emails and texts after receiving a few reports of Green Homes Grant scams.
Update 19 November 2020: the Green Homes Grant has been extended until March 2022. See the full details of the Green Homes Grant scheme.
Keep reading to find out how to spot a scam and stay safe, or sign up for a Which? scam alert to get what you need to know about the latest scams.
Energy efficiency scams
So far, there have been just a few reports of scams trying to take advantage of the announcement of the Green Homes Grant.
Action Fraud told us it hasn’t had any reports of Green Homes Grant scams yet, and Citizens’ Advice said the same.
Hertfordshire Trading Standards sent an online message to 120,000 households to alert them about a scam in their area. Police Scotland warned residents on Twitter that any emails or texts they receive about the Green Homes Grant are scams.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen scammers target energy efficiency schemes. Many appeared around the Green Deal scheme, which also helped homeowners to finance energy-saving measures. So it’s worth being careful.
Wendy Martin, director of National Trading Standards, told us: ‘Criminals exploit new trends and investments to deceive and defraud consumers and we recognise concerns that some may seek to abuse the government’s Green Homes Grant.
‘Similar initiatives have been targeted by criminals in the past – such as the Green Deal scheme in 2013 – which saw a number of individuals and companies prosecuted for unfair consumer practices.’
What to do if you’re targeted by an energy efficiency scam
If you’re not sure that a call, message or contact is genuine, take time to think about it and check the details of the individual or company.
With the Green Homes Grant, keep an eye out for when the scheme opens in late September (the latest details are in our guide to the Green Homes Grant) and what you need to do to get vouchers. Genuine companies will not know whether you’re eligible until full details are announced. You won’t be able to sign up before it launches in September.
You can report scams to Action Fraud online, or phone 0300 123 2040. It shares information with the police about scams.
For advice or help from Trading Standards, call the Citizens Advice Helpline on 0808 223 1133.
If you think you’ve revealed sensitive information or payment details to a scammer, contact your bank. It will be able to help protect your accounts from fraud.
If you’ve lost money to a scam, see what you can do to get your money back.
How to spot a scam
Scams calls, emails and visits can be tricky to detect – fraudsters are cunning and good at sounding convincing.
Ask yourself these seven simple questions to help spot if you’re facing a scam:
- Were you contacted out of the blue by the company?
- Is the deal too good to be true?
- Are you being asked for personal details?
- Are you under pressure to respond quickly?
- Are the contact details vague?
- Can you spot spelling or grammatical mistakes?
- Are you asked to keep it quiet?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Find out more about how to spot a scam.
What is the Green Homes Grant?
The genuine Green Homes Grant scheme will launch in September.
Homeowners in England will be able to access up to £5,000 of vouchers to make energy-saving improvements. The vouchers will pay for at least two thirds of eligible measures and could cover updates to insulation, low carbon heating and glazing.
If you want to participate in the scheme, you will need to apply online, choose from recommended energy efficiency measures, and use an accredited tradesperson. You will get a voucher once the trader has provided a quote and the work is approved.
No cold calling will be involved.
See the full details of the Green Homes Grant scheme, including whether you are eligible.
Paying for home improvements
You will need to check your eligibility for the scheme, and whether the vouchers are valid for your chosen home improvement. How much you can get get in vouchers will also depend on the cost of your energy efficient home improvement. You must get a quote from an approved trader and have this approved by government before any work begins.
Some energy-efficiency measures can pay for themselves in a relatively short period of time, without a grant, by helping reduce your energy bills.
For example, if your home has no loft insulation and you install the recommended 270mm thickness, you could save around £130 per year on your energy bills (based on a semi-detached house). It takes around four years to pay for itself.
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