ncreasingly vulnerable householders are facing a “significant” increase in energy scams as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, Trading Standards has warned.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has issued its “starkest warning yet” about a rise in scams such as fraudulent energy rebate text messages, rogue doorstep sellers and loan sharks preying on the vulnerable.
Some texts or emails ask the recipient to click on a link that takes them to an “official” booking platform where they are asked to submit personal information, but which is a ruse to harvest data and often used to scam the person at a later date.
The CTSI said it also expected scammers to target households in the coming weeks regarding the £150 disability cost of living payment.
Sadly, we have noticed an increase in people whose savings have been compromised
Households do not need to apply for the rebate as suppliers are automatically applying it to bills for six months from October.
The CTSI called for an urgent strategy to warn and inform consumers, especially as Citizens Advice figures showed more than 40 million people had been targeted by scammers last year.
It urged householders to ignore any messages and only deal directly with their energy company using their published phone numbers and email addresses.
CTSI lead officer for scams and doorstep crime, Katherine Hart, said: “There has been a huge surge in energy efficiency scams offering rebates and offers to apply for grants.
“With the rise of costs in fuel bills and the cost-of-living concerns during the upcoming winter months, I urge the public to be on its guard because these types of emails and texts are attempts to scam.
The cost-of-living crisis risks a significant rise in consumer detriment that the UK has not seen for decades
“Sadly, we have noticed an increase in people whose savings have been compromised.”
CTSI chief executive John Herriman said: “The cost-of-living crisis risks a significant rise in consumer detriment that the UK has not seen for decades. For the unscrupulous, current circumstances are opportunities to scrupulously profit from the most vulnerable.
“Local Trading Standards services working in partnership with other agencies have continually risen to the challenges of protecting consumers but this has become increasingly difficult as gaps in consumer protection are emerging.
“Although Trading Standards is doing its utmost to protect the public, we remain concerned about the increased levels of risk and the potential for this to deteriorate.”
Consumers can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 for advice or Action Fraud to report scams.
Consumers should report concerning texts to 7726 and emails to [email protected] and delete the message.