MILLIONS could be falling victim to fake emails offering discounts on energy bills.
The warning comes as households get ready to receive the £400 energy rebate next month.
The energy bill help is to arrive in six instalments between October and March with the first payment worth £66.
Around 30 million households in England, Scotland and Wales are eligible for the energy bill discount.
But the BBC has spotted hundreds of scam emails circling about which seem to be from energy regulator Ofgem.
It’s important to note the £400 payment will land in bank accounts automatically and you should not give away personal details to anyone.
If you share this kind of information, you are at risk of having your identity and online accounts taken over – and your money stolen from you.
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 regulator, 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.
“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.”
How to spot the signs of a scam
There are clear red flags to always keep an eye out for when you get a message you’re unsure of.
An FCA spokesperson said: “Some of the warning signs include unexpected contact, being asked to pay upfront fees, an urgency to pay quickly or in an unusual way and claiming to be regulated when they are not.”
If you receive a text or email asking for personal details, you can check if it’s real by calling whoever it claims to be from – your bank, for instance, will instantly confirm if it’s fraud and advise what to do.
Any bank, trusted organisation or public bodies like councils or the police would will never ask you to withdraw, transfer or send back money from your account.
What to do if you’ve been scammed
You should call your bank immediately using the number on the back of your card.
Tell Action Fraud, report it online or by calling 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm). It will tell the police and give you a crime reference number.
Some banks offer automatic refunds – but it does vary.
Current rules say if you have not authorised the payment then you should get a refund as long as you did not act fraudulently or with “gross negligence”, for example, giving away your PIN number or password.
In 2019 some banks, including Barclays, Santander and HSBC, signed a voluntary scam code launched in 2019.
TSB has a fraud refund guarantee in place where it will refund you as long as you are clearly an innocent victim of a con.
Using a credit card when shopping online gives you more protection as you are covered under the Consumer Credit Act, which says you are entitled to a refund if items are not delivered or are not as described.
You can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are not happy with how your complaint was dealt with.
You should expect the first instalment of the rebate to land after the new price cap hits – on October 1.
Remember you don’t need to do anything to receive it – if you click on a link, you could losing £27,000 like one Sun reader.
Source: The Sun