The cost-of-living crisis has seen a spike in scammers across the UK, with over 40 million people affected. And according to Citizens Advice, 12% of these scams are related to energy.
Scammers are professionals and can often seem legitimate. They take advantage of things like financial stress and target vulnerable people. With the increasing cost of energy impacting the entire country, fraudsters are capitalising on this opportunity to strike.
We’ve put together some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you.
Let’s take a look.
What exactly are energy scams?
Energy scams involve people impersonating energy companies or government agencies to get your money or personal information.
They can use grants, promises of cheap energy, and renewable energy claims to manipulate you into handing over information.
There are many ways scammers might get in contact with you, including:
- Text message
- Social media.
- Website pop-up.
- Phone call
What are some of the most common types of energy scams?
Energy rebate scams
Fraudsters have recently been using the £400 government energy bill rebate to trick people into handing over their personal information. They’ve also been advertising large sums of available financial support to vulnerable people.
If you qualify for the £400 government support, it will be automatically applied to your account. You don’t need to hand over any information to anyone.
Starting in October 2022, the discount will be applied to your monthly household electricity bill automatically for six months.
Head to the government website for more information.
Ofgem energy scams
A fraudster might contact you posing as an official from the energy regulator, Ofgem. They may request that you change your bank account information or provide personal information to receive funding or low-cost energy.
Ofgem will never ask for personal information, and there is no need for you to do anything to save £400 on your energy bills this winter. Ofgem will never sell you energy or visit your home.
Energy efficiency and home improvement scams
A scammer may claim that your home is unsafe and that changes are essential to protect you and your family.
This should not happen, so contact Citizens Advice or speak to a qualified and accredited professional if you have any worries.
How to recognise an energy scam
The best way to spot an energy scam is to be prepared and know what to look for. Spotting the red flags is the best way to keep your personal information safe.
Energy scammers frequently impersonate government websites. Often they can look convincing, but look out for spelling errors or a URL that looks different or suspicious.
Also, keep an eye out for:
- An offer appears to be far too good to be true
- Pressure to transfer funds as soon as possible
- Requests for personal information such as passwords or PINs
- Unexpected payments
- Suspicious claims
What should you do if you suspect a scam?
If you suspect a scam but have not yet provided any personal information or money, you can seek help from Citizens Advice.
If you’ve given your personal information or made a payment, you should contact your bank immediately. You should also notify Action Fraud and Citizens Advice about the scam. That way, you can help reduce the chances of someone else being defrauded.