Energy-related scams on the increase
Scammers are using the increase in the energy price cap to try and take advantage of consumers, Shropshire Council’s trading standards team has warned.
The team is raising awareness of energy-related scams amid a rise in the number in recent weeks.
Examples of the type of scams to look out for include the council tax energy rebate, Ofgem energy and E.ON energy.
Ed Potter, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, regeneration and planning, said:
“It is important to remain vigilant to reduce the chances of falling victim to scammers. Sadly, even the savviest consumer is at risk of being scammed at some point in their lives.
“Scammers are clever, sophisticated and can sound extremely convincing, even pretending to be from the council to lull you into a false sense of security, but be aware of uninvited contact through unsolicited emails, phone calls and doorstep cold callers.
“It is really important that you don’t reveal personal information such as banking details and if you are in any doubt, always seek advice and report suspected scams as soon as possible”.
“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.”
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s head of business and consumer protection, added:
“Scammers involved in energy related scams will typically claim to be from an energy company or Ofgem with the intention of misleading consumer’s into revealing personal information such as banking details, which the scammer uses to commit fraud against consumers.
“Finding and bringing scammers to account is very challenging as they often operate from countries outside the UK. The best defence is being aware of the risks and taking steps to thwart their attempts from the outset.”
Below are some of the scams we are currently aware of.
Council tax energy rebate scam
Scammers call households asking for bank details to qualify for the government’s £150 energy rebate. The scammers claim to be associated with the council, explain a refund is due and ask for your bank details to pay out the £150 rebate.
Those who fall foul of this scam find that large sums of money have been deducted from their bank accounts shortly after the call. Information regarding the actual energy rebate can be found on Shropshire Council’s website here. Further information regarding this scam can be found here.
Ofgem energy scam
Scammers contact you pretending to be from Ofgem suggesting you switch and then ask you for your bank details. These are energy scams and Ofgem never sell you energy, ask for personal information or come to your home. Further information can be found on Ofgem’s website here including information about how to report a scam.
E.ON energy scam
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has reported that scammers have sent fake emails, known as “phishing”, to consumers purporting to be from E.ON.
The email states the recipient is owed an £85 refund due to an overcharge. This email has a link to a genuine looking website but is designed to steal personal details. Further information regarding this scam and the phishing emails can be found on the E.ON website here.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam or know someone else who has, you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0800 144 8848 for advice; there is further information on their website on how and to whom scams should be reported.
Friends against Scams is a National Trading Standards scams team initiative which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams. Information on this initiative can be found here.
Help is also available from:
For help and advice during these difficult times Shropshire Council recommends residents contact our free, impartial advice service, Keep Shropshire Warm (KSW) on 0800 112 3743, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KSW is run for us by independent energy charity Marches Energy Agency. The team can provide advice and assistance on reducing your bills, signpost and refer to potential sources of financial assistance as well as referring eligible households to the current government backed schemes for whole house retrofit of insulation and low carbon heating.