Trading standards officers are urging people to be on the alert for scams linked to the cost-of-living crisis and energy bills.
The warning follows a significant rise in reports of energy scams nationally.
And with growing concern about energy bills, they want to avoid more people falling victim to scammers this autumn and winter.
Trading Standards are warning of:
- scam energy rebate text messages
- energy tariff mis-selling by doorstep sellers
- loan sharks preying on the most vulnerable affected by the cost-of-living crisis
They stress that the Energy Bill Discount for households of £400 this winter will be taken off energy bills directly in instalments over the next six months.
Consumers do not need to do anything – the rebate will be applied automatically by their energy company. Therefore, ignore any messages about energy rebates and only deal directly with your energy company using their published phone numbers and email addresses.
Scam texts and emails about rebates and grants
Katherine Hart, Lead Officer for Scams and Doorstep Crime at the national Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: “There has been a huge surge in energy efficiency scams offering rebates and offers to apply for grants.
“With the rise of costs in fuel bills and the cost-of-living concerns during the upcoming winter months, I urge the public to be on its guard because these types of emails and texts are attempts to scam.
“We see some of the texts or emails ask people to click on a link that takes them to an official booking platform where they are asked to submit personal information. This is a ruse to data harvest, often to scam the person at a later date. Sadly, we have noticed an increase in people whose savings have been compromised.
“If consumers receive emails or texts out of the blue, then report texts to 7726, emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and delete the message.”
Be on the alert
Council leader, Phélim Mac Cafferty, said: “We know there is mounting concern about the soaring cost of living and energy bills as we go into autumn and winter. Sadly, scammers are preying on people who are already finding it hard to make ends meet.
“With talk in the news about energy payments and discounts, it’s all too easy to get taken in by an official looking text message or email and it is vital that people are on the alert for these scams, now more than ever.”
Consumer advice and support
For consumer advice and assistance, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. This information will be referred to trading standards.
In addition, to report scams contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.