Energy bill scam warning: Fraudsters ask for personal details so they can ‘send you £400’

Energy bill scam warning: Fraudsters ask for personal details so they can ‘send you £400’

With the cost-of-living crisis starting to bite ever harder, fraudsters have stooped to sending out fake emails and texts claiming to offer discounts on energy bills.

A fair few scams have been doing the rounds, including some that worryingly appear to be from energy regulator Ofgem.

It comes as millions of households across the UK are set to receive a £400 energy discount from next week to help them tackle soaring bills.

This is on top of Prime Minister Lizz Truss ’ announcement of an Energy Price Guarantee, which will freeze energy bills at around £2,500 a year for someone with typical use from October 1.

It’s important to note that the £400 discount will be automatic and as such there is no need for anyone to disclose their personal details in order to apply.

Households are bracing themselves for a sharp rise in energy prices next month, with average bills forecast to reach an eye-watering £4,200 in 2023.

And Ofgem has already asked energy suppliers to be crystal clear on potential customer fraud on their websites.

What’s in these messages?
The fraudulent messages ask the recipient to apply for a £400 ‘non-repayable discount’ before telling them to click a link to a fake Ofgem website where they can provide their personal details.

You are then asked to set up a direct debit to receive the cash.

An Ofgem spokesperson said protecting consumers is their top priority: “It is alarming that vulnerable customers are being preyed upon in this way when people are already struggling so much.

“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.”

The BBC has identified several sites sending out scam messages. These include:
An increasingly wary public has already made moves to thwart the fraudsters, with more than 1,500 reports about the scam emails lodged with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Detective Chief Inspector Hayley King, from the City of London Police, said: “If an e-mail is genuine, the company will never push you into handing over your details.

“All of the reported emails display the email subject header ‘Claim your bill rebate now’ and the criminals behind the scam are using the Ofgem logo and colours to make the email appear authentic.”

What can I do to stay safe?
The Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (Cifas) has warned everyone to stay on their guard.

Amber Burridge, Head of Intelligence for Cifas, said: “Criminals are using a variety of ways to target unsuspecting victims in order to steal money and personal information that can be used to commit fraud.

“Remember that no matter how an offer comes to your attention, there are very few occasions where there is a legitimate need to hand over your bank details.”

If you have received an e-mail that rings any alarm bells, be sure to forward it to [email protected]

Any doubts at all about an e-mail’s legitimacy, simply contact the organisation directly
Make sure you don’t interact with any numbers or addresses in teh suspicious message. Instead use the details from the official website.
Always, always remember that your bank – or any other official source – will never ask you to supply personal information via e-mail.