Warning as criminals exploit cost of living crisis to target the public with energy rebate scams
Energy prices are set to increase on 1 October 2022 and in the last two weeks, more than 1,500 reports have been made to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) about scam emails purporting to be about energy rebates from Ofgem, the independent energy regulator for Great Britain.
In the two weeks from Monday 22nd August to Monday 5th August 2022, a total of 1,567 phishing emails related to this scam were reported via the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS).
Detective Chief Inspector Hayley King, from the City of London Police, said:
“It is shameful that in a time of financial hardship, criminals are targeting members of the public by claiming they are entitled to receiving rebates and refunds.
“If an email is genuine, the company will never push you into handing over your details. Always take a moment to consider if the request you have received is genuine.
“We would always urge people to follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice and think carefully before giving out their personal and financial details.”
In this instance, the reported scam emails claim that the recipient is due an energy rebate payment as part of a government scheme and provides links for the recipient to follow to apply for the rebate. The links in the emails lead to malicious websites designed to steal personal and financial information.
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.
However the emails ask recipients to “apply for an energy bill rebate before September 2020”, which prompted many recipients to realise the emails were not genuine and subsequently report the scam.
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.
“Genuine organisations won’t mind you calling back; only scammers apply pressure and insist you hand over details immediately. 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 protect yourself
- 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.
- If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to email@example.com. Send us emails that feel suspicious, even if you're not certain they're a scam - we can check.
- Follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice:
- STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
ActionFraud is the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.
We provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and cyber crime.
The easiest way to report fraud and cyber crime is by using our online reporting tool.Report
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