Energy bill support scheme scammers
5 October 2022
Reports of scam emails and text messages are increasing, with fake communications often claiming to be about energy rebates from Ofgem, the independent energy regulator, or the UK Government.
The messages claim that the recipient is due an energy rebate payment or discounted energy bill as part of a government scheme and provide links for the recipient to follow to apply for the rebate. The links lead to malicious websites designed to steal personal and financial information.
"It's really sad to see scammers trying to cash in on the cost-of-living crisis with these messages," said Cllr Matthew Dorrance, Powys County Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for a Fairer Powys. "They are being sent at a time when most people are expecting to receive something authentic about support with their energy bills, so are especially vulnerable to this type of deception.
"Please be on your guard for these con artists, who are always on the lookout for a change in circumstances to exploit. Always double-check before clicking on a link in an email or text message, or before handing over any personal or financial information."
If you have any doubts about a message, contact the organisation directly. Don't use the numbers or address in the message - use the details from their official website.
Remember, your bank (or any other official source) will never ask you to supply personal information via email or a text message.
The non-repayable £400 energy discount from the UK Government will be paid in six instalments, with households seeing £66 taken off their energy bills in October and November, and £67 a month from December to March 2023.
The money will be paid differently depending on how you pay your bill:
- If you've set up a direct debit, or pay by card, the money will be automatically credited to your energy account, reducing what you need to pay.
- Customers with 'smart' prepayment meters will have the money applied to their meter each month, so they'll have to add less credit to their meter.
- Those with 'non-smart' traditional prepayment devices will receive either 'Special Action Messages' or vouchers from their supplier in the first week of each month, by text, email or in the post.
The vouchers will be redeemable at top-up points, such as a local post office, and the discount will be credited to the meter key. It's therefore important your supplier has your current, up-to-date contact details.
PICTURE: A screenshot of a scam text message received by a member of Powys County Council staff, showing how realistic they can be made to look by cyber-criminals.