Martin Lewis warns everyone to check energy direct debits NOW – as a third are ‘overcharged’

Martin Lewis and his money saving team have warned everyone to check their energy direct debits – and you need to do it NOW.

That's because almost a third of customers from some of the biggest suppliers have reported seeing their bills DOUBLE.

At least 30% of British Gas, Octopus Energy and Shell Energy customers who were in credit and on price-capped tariffs are being "overcharged", said Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert.

The finance experts recorded thousands of disgruntled customers who had seen their payments rise by more than the 54% price cap increase that came in April.

But Martin himself said: "Don't accept unfair hikes."

He explained exactly what you need to do to make sure you're not forking out more than you need to as well.

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"Under firms' licence conditions you have a right to a fair direct debit," revealed the money mogul.

"Submit an up-to-date meter reading first, then speak to your supplier and politely ask it to justify the rise.

"If it can't, request that it is lowered.

"If it refuses, make a formal complaint and take it to the Energy Ombudsman."

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Martin's advice applies to those in credit, and who have been on a standard variable tariff for six months or more, but had still seen their direct debit go up by far too much.

Those coming off fixes had said they'd seen their direct debits rise the most.

Plenty will have been able to dodge the recent rises if they were still under their fixed contract, but now those have ended the next best thing is moving to the price cap – even though it's MORE expensive.

Bills are only expected to go up further later on in the year too.

Another increase to the price cap could mean energy bills rise ANOTHER £600.

They could soar to a whopping £2,800 by the end of the year.

And with so much turmoil in the industry, a number of suppliers have collapsed, with more than 30 having gone bust in the past year alone.

But when an energy supplier collapses, regulator Ofgem automatically assigns customers to a new provider.

As a result, many households who were appointed to a new company have seen their bills go up, because the new supplier does not have to honour the deal they were on.

Check and challenge your bill

If you pay by direct debit, then this monthly amount should be "fair and reasonable".

But if you check it and you don't think that's the case, you can complain to your energy provider.

If you're not happy with the outcome you can take it to the independent Energy Ombudsman to dispute, but there are a few steps before you get to that stage.

Your supplier must clearly explain why it's chosen that amount for your direct debit.

If you've got credit on your account, you have every right to get it back – although some experts recommend keeping it there through the summer, so your bills don't go up in the winter when you use more energy.

Your supplier must refund you or explain exactly why not otherwise and the regulator, Ofgem, can fine them.

But you should also take regular meter readings to backup your claims.

Not only will that allow you to track your own usage and check when you do start paying more, but it means the company you're with can't rely on estimates, which may lead to you being overcharged.

A reading leaves no room for error either, as it shows precisely what you actually used.

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If it's lower than your estimate, you can ask your provider to lower your monthly direct debit to a more suitable amount.

But beware that you don’t end up in debt later on with a bigger catch up bill at the end of the year from underpayments racking up.

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