Energy bill scam warning over fake gadgets and rebates – how to spot them

HOUSEHOLDS are being warned of energy discount scams and counterfeit appliances claiming to save money on their bills.

It comes as millions face rising costs and seek to make savings, with a £400 rebate also being given this winter to help.

Millions will get £400 in rebates from this week to help with energy bills

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Millions will get £400 in rebates from this week to help with energy billsCredit: Alamy
Households are warned not to fall for such scam messages

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Households are warned not to fall for such scam messages

Around 30 million households in England, Scotland and Wales are to receive the discount on their energy bills from this week.

The money is due to arrive in six installments between October and March, with the first payment being worth £66.

The Sun recently saw a fraudulent text message circulating: “GOV-UK: You are owed £400 under the reduced energy bill as a result of the Energy Bill Support Scheme.”

The recipient was then asked to follow a link to apply for it.

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However, it’s important to know that the £400 payment ends up in the bank accounts automatically – you don’t need to apply.

You should not give your personal information to anyone.

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If you give this type of information to scammers, you risk having your personal information and money stolen.

Stuart Anderson, MP for Wolverhampton South West, has shared an image of a similar scam on Twitter and warned: “I’ve received emails from voters regarding text messages like the one below.

“If you receive such messages, please do not reply as it is a scam.”

It comes as Action Fraud said earlier this month that in just two weeks in August it had received 1,567 reports of fraudulent emails about energy discounts.

These are said to come from Ofgem, the energy regulator.

Detective Chief Inspector Hayley King of the City of London Police said: “It is shameful that criminals attack the public in times of financial hardship by claiming they are entitled to rebates and refunds.

“If an email is genuine, the company will never pressure you into giving up your information.”

She urged recipients to always take a moment to consider whether the request they’re receiving is genuine.

Meanwhile, scammers are trying to sell a cheating device that pretends to save money on your bills.

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It goes by several names including Motex, Voltex and Voltbox and costs £59 to buy online.

But none of the gadgets passed the Which? basic security check.

It was found that they could cause fire or electrocution and there was no evidence that they would save any money at all.

You can get smart plugs to monitor the energy use of different devices around the house from as little as £8.

But you should always check first that you are buying from a reputable seller.

Check if it is a genuine brand and see reviews from people who have used the device before.

How to protect yourself

There are clear warning signs that you should always look out for when you receive a message you are unsure about.

In the example above, you can see that the link is not from an official government website.

Also watch out for grammatical errors.

If you have any doubts about an SMS or email asking for personal information, contact the organization directly.

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Action Fraud recommends not using the numbers or addresses in the message. Visit the official website instead.

Remember that your bank (or any other official source) will never ask you to provide personal information via email.

What to do if you have been scammed

Call your bank immediately on the number on the back of your card.

Report Action Fraud, report it online or by phone on 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm).

It will inform the police and give you a file number.

Some banks offer automatic refunds – but that varies.

The current rules state that you should get a refund if you didn’t authorize the payment, as long as you didn’t act with fraudulent intent or “gross negligence” e.g. B. by revealing your PIN number or password.

In 2019, some banks including Barclays, Santander and HSBC signed a voluntary fraud code that was introduced in 2019.

TSB has a scam refund guarantee that will give you a refund as long as you are clearly an innocent victim of a scam.

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Millions of Ovo Energy customers will receive the £400 rebate directly into their bank accounts from this weekend.

It comes after the company announced a £50million support package for its most vulnerable customers on September 1.