This week the National Citizens Advice team is highlighting some of the techniques scammers use to fool their potential victims, as energy costs rocket. We’re all worried about money and scammers are taking advantage of this. They’re using the energy crisis to exploit people, and the techniques they use are tried and tested.It’s important to be ScamAware, and to stop and think whether you might have fallen for an energy scam. Here are techniques scammers use time and time again…
Fear: Is someone trying to make you feel scared about your energy being cut off? Scammers use fear of serious consequences to make victims act without thinking. The fear persuades you not to check whether something is a scam as carefully as you would normally do.
Urgency: Has someone offered you a special tariff, but only if you act quickly? It’s a tool in the scammers’ kit. They’ll offer you a good deal you feel you can’t afford to miss. So you end up clicking on a link, or giving your personal details without thinking.
Energy Scammers will typically claim to be from an energy company (whether from the Big 6 or a small independent company) or Ofgem (the UK electricity and gas regulator) to mislead customers in any number of ways. For example, a scammer may claim that they can offer a cheaper rate on a pre-paid gas/electricity card, expecting the customer to pay there and then. But the scammer has no connection to the energy company and so, not only does the customer pay the scammer, but they must still pay their normal rate to their electricity company. Some doorstep scammers may also ask to see the energy bill which may give them access to personal details, enabling them to commit further fraud.
Energy Scammers have many ways of operating, so be vigilant.
Salespeople who request bank details or personal information.
Cold callers or door salespeople who claim to be from Ofgem. Ofgem does not have staff going door to door.
Salespeople who are insistent about gaining access to your home - especially if you live alone or are vulnerable. They may be looking to see how secure it is.
A door to door salesperson trying to sell you energy efficiency 'gadgets'. These are unlikely to reduce your energy bills and could even pose a fire or electrocution risk.
Salespeople who are determined to make the 'sale' there and then. Legitimate companies will understand that a potential customer may want to take some time to research and decide.
Authority figures: Have you had ‘official’ communication from Ofgem about switching your account? It won’t be genuine. Ofgem never sells people energy. They’d never ask for personal information or come to a property. If scammers pretend to have authority people are less likely to ask questions. They think they can trust the organisation they believe has contacted them.
So, please report any scam attempts: When you text 7726 to report a scam text or call, it triggers your mobile provider to investigate and potentially block the number. Received spam email? You know you don't have to even open it, you can simply right click then select "forward" and send to; email@example.com
If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: For general advice . 0808 278 7841 (freephone) Mon – Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm and text relay for people with hearing impairment: Text relay: 03444 111 445 for people with hearing impairment .The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294