Action Fraud has issued an urgent warning that criminals are looking to exploit the cost of living crisis with energy rebate scams.
Almost 1,600 reports have been made in the last two weeks to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) of fake energy bill rebates from Ofgem.
Energy prices are set to increase on 1 October 2022, and criminals are trying to cash in on the energy crisis by trying to trick people into handing over their bank accounts.
What do the scam emails say?
In the last two weeks from Monday 22 August to Monday 5 September 2022, police say they have had a total of 1,567 phishing emails.
The scam emails pretend to be from Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, and are titled “claim your bill rebate now”.
It tells potential victims they are due payment under a government scheme to help people cope with the rising cost of gas and electricity.
The links lead to malicious websites designed to steal personal and financial information, using the authentic Ofgem logo and colours within the emails.
The emails ask recipients to “apply for an energy bill rebate before September 2020”, prompting many people to realise the emails were not genuine and to report the scam.
The Government’s £400 energy rebate goes directly to your supplier, and you do not need to fill out any form to receive it.
Therefore anything asking consumers to “apply for an energy bill rebate” will be a scam.
What was said?
Det Ch Insp Hayley King, from the City of London Police, said: “It is shameful that in a time of financial hardship, criminals are targeting members of the public by claiming they are entitled to receiving rebates and refunds.
“If an email is genuine, the company will never push you into handing over your details. Always take a moment to consider if the request you have received is genuine.
“We would always urge people to follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice and think carefully before giving out their personal and financial details.”
An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Protecting consumers is our top priority and it is alarming that vulnerable customers are being preyed upon in this way when people are already struggling so much. That’s why, as energy regulators, on top of issuing our own warnings and advice, we have asked all energy suppliers to ensure clear and up to date information on scams is easily accessible on their websites.
“We take these attempts to exploit consumers very seriously and work with the National Cyber Security Centre to prevent these malicious attacks. If people are unsure if something is a scam they should pause, check and don’t let callers push you into anything.
“Genuine organisations won’t mind you calling back; only scammers apply pressure and insist you hand over details immediately. If you have any doubts about a message, consumers should contact the organisation directly and not use the numbers or address in the message – use the details from their official website.”