The fraudsters send bogus messages pretending to be from a supplier or from Ofgem, to get people to send them information which can be used to commit fraud. Fraud prevention group, Cifas, has reported a rise in scams where an email is sent saying the consumer is owed a refund on their energy bills, reports the Daily Record.
The message states that the person is eligible for a refund as they paid more than they should have for their energy in the period 2020 to 2021.
The email includes a link to a webpage, controlled by the scammers, where the customer fills out a form with their personal and financial information.
The energy company’s logo is used but the email domain is different from the energy supplier.
Amber Burridge, head of Intelligence at Cifas, said: “As the cost of living crisis continues, criminals are using a variety of ways to target unsuspecting victims in order to steal money and personal information that can be used to commit fraud.
“Remember that no matter how an offer comes to your attention, there are very few occasions where there is a legitimate need to hand over your bank details.
“Fraud can be executed in stages, and criminals will try a combination of different techniques, from sending ‘free products’ to unsolicited calls purporting to be from a trusted organisation.”
Cifas also advise Britons to think carefully before responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails.
Another tip from the group is to always challenge requests for personal or financial information, to make sure the request is legitimate.
Ms Burridge said: “Just like you should never give out a one-time passcode, do not give anyone permission to remotely access your computer.
“It is crucial that we continue to remain vigilant of fraud and work together to stop criminals from exploiting the public.”
Retail consumer website, Which?, has also warned consumers of the refund scam where criminals send messages claiming to be from Ofgem, in a ploy to get people to input their personal details.
Consumers should check the authenticity of an email before responding and sending over any information.
Ofgem said previously in a tweet: “There’s reports thieves are emailing consumers saying they’re from Ofgem and asking for direct debit details to refund the winter energy repayment. This is a scam.
“We have reported these to the NCSC Takedown service. They are working to get these taken down urgently.”
Analysts believe the energy price cap could hit £4,266 by January 2023 which is resulting in people looking for better deals with suppliers and applying for any concessions or refunds.
Any legitimate emails from Ofgem will have an address which ends with ‘@ofgem.gov.uk’.