Consumers have been warned to be aware of fraudulent text messages that have been circulating during the cost-of-living crisis.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has discovered that fraud has increased by 25% since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scammers have been targeting vulnerable people with fake text messages about the energy-support scheme.
There have been calls for members of the public to remain vigilant and report all scams.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to spot the energy bill scam.
What is an energy bill scam?
An energy bill scam is when a fraudster contacts someone by phone or text, promising them money off their energy bills.
They will often pretend to be from a reputible company and ask for personal information, including the consumer’s bank details.
There is usually an urgency with the call, with the fraudster pressuring the consumer to give up information in order to avail of certain offers or deals.
When this is done in a text message format, there is usually a link, once consumers have clicked on it, the fraudsters will either ask them to enter their bank information or carry out phishing on their computer or mobile device with maleware.
What do fraudulent texts look like?
Scams are unfortunately nothing new, but have been steadily increasing since the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the growing cost-of-living crisis, many people have been receiving fraudulent texts in relation to the government energy support scheme.
Ofgem have stated that any bill deductions will come from your energy supplier and be automatically applied to your bill and that there is no need to apply for any scheme.
Those who are on a prepayment metre will receive vouchers to the same value.
Ofgem and your energy provider will not ask for your bank details over the phone or via text, the only reason you would need to contact your supplier is if you do not receive the discount by the end of October.
Consumers have been receiving fake text messages telling them they need to register to be eligible for the government scheme.
If you receive a text like the one that is shown above, do not click on the link and instead report it by either forwarding the text to 7726 or by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
How can I spot a fraudulent text?
Les Roberts, Content Manager at broadband company Bionic explains: “If you didn’t initiate the conversation and you are asked to share private details, or if you are pressured into making decisions without being allowed to consult your family or friends, it is very likely that you are being scammed.”
Roberts adds: “The best thing to do if you are not 100% convinced by the caller is to hang up the phone.
“Scammers will often claim to be from reputable companies and use convincing language that will make you want to reply. For example, they might offer you money or free products. Most recently, we’ve seen scammers jumping on the back of recent news to try and convince people that they are eligible for an energy bills rebate.
“If you think a scam seems suspicious, go to the official body and reply directly. Do not reply to the text or email itself as you may be providing scammers with your personal data.”
What happens if you fall victim to a scam?
If you happen to fall victim to an energy bill scam it is important that you change all of your online banking passwords as soon as possible, not just the ones that have been compromised.
Contact your bank or credit card company and make them aware of what’s happned and freeze or cancel your cards. Some banking apps will have a setting that allows you to do this quickly.
It’s important that afterwards you report the scam by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.