People should be on high alert for energy-related scams, consumer group Which? warns
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Consumers should be on high alert for energy-related scams, Which? warns.
Over 40 million people have been targeted by scammers amidst the cost-of-living crisis. Out of this, 12% of scams are related to energy.
Scammers pray on vulnerabilities, such as financial worries. As more people are worried about paying their bills right now, more people are at risk of being scammed.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to protect yourself and the people around you from energy scams.
What are energy scams?
Energy scams involve people pretending to be energy companies or regulators to get your money or personal information.
They can use the availability of grants, promises of cheap energy, and energy efficiency claims as tactics to trick you.
Scammers can contact you in many ways:
- By a knock at your door.
- By phone call.
- Via social media.
- By email.
- Via a pop up on a website.
- By text message.
What are some common energy scams?
Ofgem energy scams
A scammer may contact you claiming to be from the energy regulator Ofgem. They may ask you to change your bank details or provide personal information to receive funding or cheap energy.
Which? also warned earlier this month about bogus emails using the Ofgem logo and branding sent to consumers claiming to offer an ‘energy bill rebate scheme’. More here.
Energy rebate scams
Recently, scammers have been using the £400 government energy bill rebate scheme to trick people into handing over their details. Other tactics have included promises of sums of money to people of pension age or with disabilities. For more information on the energy bill rebate scheme, see this blog on how to get £400 off your energy bills from October.
Energy efficiency and home improvement scams
Another way a scammer might try to trick you is by telling you that your home is unsafe, and changes must be made immediately to prevent harm to you and your household. This can be extremely worrying, and it’s always best to put your mind at rest by calling Citizens Advice or checking with a qualified and accredited professional.
For more information, see this blog from Citizens Advice on common energy efficiency scams.
How can you spot an energy scam?
The best way to spot an energy scam is to stay vigilant and know what to look out for. Here are some key signs that a scammer is at work:
- A deal looks too good to be true.
- You’re being pressured to transfer money quickly.
- You’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way.
- You suspect you’re not dealing with a real company.
- You’ve been asked to give away personal information such as passwords or PINs.
Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “Fraudsters are always on the lookout for new ways to part people from their hard-earned cash and unfortunately, the energy crisis is no exception.”
“It is important to remember that the energy discount will be automatically applied by your supplier and they will never ask for bank details. Customers on traditional prepayment meters will receive the rebate via vouchers.”
“Consumers should be on high alert for energy-related scams and if in any doubt, should verify the email directly with the company before giving any personal information.”
What to do if you think you’ve spotted a scam
If you think you’ve spotted a scam but haven’t yet given over any personal information or money, you can contact Citizens Advice for support.
If you’ve handed over any financial and personal information or made a payment, you should talk to your bank or card company immediately. You should also report the scam to Action Fraud and report it to Citizens Advice. By reporting scams, you can help reduce the chances of someone else getting defrauded.
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