At Barings Law, we want our customers to be safe. We are concerned about the many reports emerging that more and more customers are being targeted by scammers.
In these uncertain times, we are all concerned about the cost of our energy bills, whether it’s in our homes or at our business premises.
And our concerns provide the doubt that scammers thrive on. Their illicit activities mean that customers are receiving text messages, emails and telephone calls targeting them in a bid to get hold of their sensitive information, such as bank account details.
The phishing messages, which can be convincing to the innocent eye, claim to have been issued on behalf of Ofgem (the UK’s energy regulating body) or the government and invite customers to take advantage of support schemes by signing up. Others request bank account details so that they can issue a rebate on their bills and pay it directly into business accounts.
The UK Government announced in September that customers who didn’t qualify for the Ofgem price cap would benefit from a six-month support scheme. Businesses and other non-domestic energy supply customers in England, Wales and Scotland (including public sector organisations) can access energy bill relief for six months. This is being applied to the end of March 2023. In Northern Ireland a similar scheme to offer support is in place.
Sadly, scammers are trying to cash in on unsuspecting customers by exploiting business managers’ trusting nature.
We want our clients to be aware of their illicit activity in order to avoid becoming a victim.
Protect yourself by taking these steps if they contact you.
If you receive a text message, email or phone call from someone claiming to be working on behalf of the government’s support scheme it could be a scam. You should also be wary of messages received via social media or in pop-up messages on websites. Instances of people calling on your business in person are rare but do occasionally happen.
It’s important to remember that the energy bill relief scheme is automatically applied. Your business’ energy supplier will apply any reductions to your bills if you are eligible. There is no need to disclose your details to anyone in order to receive the discount. Always bear in mind that the message you have received may not be authentic.
Always take a moment to consider if the message you have received is genuine, and don’t give in to any high-pressure tactics applied by a caller. You can always reject or refuse any requests for information. Only potential criminals will try to rush you or force you to make a rash decision.
And if they really are genuine, they won’t mind calling you back or you calling them once you have confirmed their identity and obtained a number from a trustworthy source.
Ofgem, the government, your bank, or any legitimate official body, will never ask you to supply your confidential information to them in an email, by text message or during an unsolicited phone call.
So, if you receive one of the emails purporting to be from Ofgem or the government, DO NOT click on any link. Do not enter your personal or business information in any online application form, or reveal them in any contact with the sender.
If you believe you need to respond to the message, or take any action regarding the support scheme, contact your energy provider by visiting their website or calling their contact number. Do so directly, rather than following any links the message provides as these are specially designed to steal your information.
If you suspect you have received a scam email, text message or telephone call, you should contact your bank immediately and ask for their advice and support.
You should also report it to Action Fraud, which deals with fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Customers in Scotland should call 101 to contact Police Scotland.