As energy prices rise again, the general public are being warned not to fall victim to fake calls, texts and emails claiming to offer support with the energy cost crisis.
Since people with disabilities often have additional energy needs compared to non-disabled people, there is particular concern that this group could be targeted by scammers.
“Scammers are taking advantage and preying on the most vulnerable in our society”
According to new research by Lottie, a later living marketplace, there has been a surge in online searches for energy fraud. This includes:
Over 5000% increase in online searches on Google for ‘energy bills support scheme scam’, ‘my energy bill online scam’ and ‘energy bill rebate scam’
4950% increase in online searches for ‘discounted energy bill scam text’
4550% increase in online searches for ‘reporting scam texts’
Will Donnelly, Co-Founder and Care Expert at Lottie, said: “More people than ever before are worried about the rising energy costs, and unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage and preying on the most vulnerable in our society.
“Energy scams can have a serious impact on your financial health, losing you a lot of money. Falling victim to fraud may affect your wellbeing and leave you feeling anxious, stressed, isolated and worried.
“Fortunately, there’s a few ways to stay savvy against scams, and this is something we must continue to raise awareness of. We must also take this crisis as an opportunity to look after each-other. Check in on your elderly family members, friends, and neighbours, especially with the dropping temperatures and change in weather.”
Four tips to avoid falling victim to energy scams
Lottie’s four tips to avoid falling victim to energy scams are as follows:
Energy scammers will often contact you unexpectedly, whether that is via a phone call, text message or email. If you do get contacted and offered a free energy review or rebate, it is likely a scam.
Simply hang up or ignore any unsolicited text messages promising you more money.
Keep up to date with the latest scams
Sophisticated scammers often contact thousands of people with the same text, email or call. Luckily, many news outlets and websites will report on these scams to keep the public. To protect yourself as best you can, it’s important to stay clued up on the latest scams by checking the news. You can always ask a family member or friend if you need help with this.
Speak to your loved ones
If you think someone fraudulent is trying to contact you, or you have already fallen victim to fraud, it is important to speak to your family and friends. Anyone can be susceptible to scams, especially as they are becoming more sophisticated. Even the most careful people can be caught out.
Make sure you speak to your friends and family, as it can feel a huge relief to open up about how you’ve feeling. They can support you in reporting the fraud and help you cope with any stress, anxiety or worry you are experiencing.
Report a scam
You should always report fraudulent activity as this can enable the police or another relevant authority to issue warnings and stop the scammer from contacting more people.
Contact the police via 101 immediately if you feel threatened or if you have transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours. You can also report fraud to the Citizens Advice service – make sure you note down all details about the scam, including whether you have transferred any money, who you have been in contact with and the type of information you have shared.