With the energy crisis rumbling on, unfortunately, scams are on the rise. Over the last year, more than 40 million people have been targeted by scammers, and 12% of these are related to our energy bills.
However, there are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, and part of that is to arm yourself with knowledge.
People use various ways to target vulnerable people, aiming to get your personal information to extract money from your accounts.
They are increasingly using the new energy grants available to contact you either by:
- Door to door
- Calling on the phone
- Social media
- Email and text
- Website pop-ups
They could be claiming to be from Ofgem, energy rebate companies, gov.uk or an energy supplier.
The best way to spot a scam is to know what to look for. Here are some tips:
You could be offered money or a rebate and asked to click on a link. Look carefully at this link as it will have random numbers and if they claim to be from the government, the URL will not be from gov.uk.
Energy companies and government departments such as HMRC will not ask you to click on a link and will not send you a message via text or email. Instead, they will ask you to access your account using the official website address – in the case of HMRC, this is a two-factor login whereby you are texted a code and log into your tax account. Any messages will be visible here and will not appear anywhere else.
If you click on a link, you may be asked to input a small amount of money to receive a rebate and could be asked for personal information to validate your account. Do not make any payments or give any personal details.
Please do not hand over any information, reply to emails or texts or engage in conversation.
Instead, contact Citizens Advice for support. If you made any payments, you must report this to your bank or credit card immediately and report it to Action Fraud.
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, support is available. All households in England, Wales and Scotland will get £400 off their bills from October 2022, with monthly payments over six months to March 2023. The UK Government is working to ensure that people in Northern Ireland receive equivalent support as soon as possible.
You can also find free advice from Home Energy Scotland, the Scottish Government-funded advice service. Home Energy Scotland works closely with Trading Standards Scotland to help householders avoid energy scams – find out more about this work on the Home Energy Scotland website.