Consumers are urged to beware of scammers who call offering rebates on energy efficient initiatives or try to sell energy saving devices that don't deliver the promised energy savings.
These days we all want to save money and help the environment. Unfortunately, scammers are preying on this desire to ‘go green’ by offering fake government rebates for initiatives like solar heating and hot water, insulation and water tanks, as well as fake energy saving devices.
Scammers posing as government representatives are calling consumers and offering rebates for installing energy efficient appliances, solar panels, water tanks, new insulation and the like. The scammer will ask for bank account details or for a fee to be paid before the rebate can be processed. Unfortunately, these promised rebates never appear.
Scammers may also sell plug-in devices that they say will save large amounts of energy in the home, just by plugging them into the wall - but the saving never happens. While some companies legitimately sell energy saving devices, it is important for consumers to check the authenticity of the claims and ensure that the device is authorised to be sold in Australia, by checking for an authorisation number.
SCAMwatch warns you to watch out for ‘green scheme’ scammers. Australian Government departments will never phone or email you asking you to pay upfront amounts in order to claim a rebate. Never confirm or provide personal details over the phone or by email as you never know what the scammer will use it for. You should also never pay money upfront to receive rebates or ‘free’ money – this is advance fee fraud. If you do pay, you will never see your money again. Always check the authenticity of the claims before buying an energy efficient product.
- If you receive a phone call, SMS or email out of the blue from someone claiming you are entitled to a rebate, hang up or delete the message immediately.
- Be very cautious if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the government. Verify who they are by independently finding the agency’s contact details and contacting them directly.
- NEVER provide or confirm your personal details, or give money to someone unless you’re completely confident that they are who they say they are.
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.
You can report suspicious or unsolicited emails and SMS (spam) to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Spam SMS can be forwarded directly to the ACMA on their Spam SMS hotline – 0429 999 888.
Check out SCAMwatch for more information about how to protect yourself, as well as steering clear of phishing, upfront payment and unexpected ‘prize’ scams.
The ACCC and the Australian Communications and Media Authority have issued a joint media release on phone scams.