Ofgem 'could investigate Direct Debit bills'

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Industry regulator Ofgem is considering investigating the rising prices of Direct Debit bills from energy companies following a complaint by an MP.

Peter Luff, chairman of the business and enterprise select committee, claims Direct Debit payments for energy have been raised "even when customers' accounts were in credit", report the BBC.

A spokesman for Ofgem has been quick to rebuke the claims, saying there was "no quantified evidence indicating misuse of Direct Debit schemes".

He did add that the regulator was considering launching an investigation after receiving information from a number of consumers.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, from trade body the Energy Retail Association, has told the BBC: "What energy companies are trying to do is make sure you get a balanced account that is zero or as close to zero as possible after you've had the biggest bill."

The chancellor Alistair Darling, in his pre-budget report, recently said that energy firms need to work to reduce household bills.

Under new proposals, Ofgem is to publish reports on a quarterly basis to show the prices paid by the firms and the costs passed on to the consumer.

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