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 STOKE-ON-TRENT, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS, SOUTH CHESHIRE

Warning issued as scammers exploit cost of living pressures


Residents are reminded to be scam aware as concern grows over the increasing number of scams relating to rising energy costs.

 

In one scam, being highlighted by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service,criminals pretending to be from Ofgem send an email promising an energy rebate.

 

Ofgem is the UK’s independent energy regulator working to protect energy consumers, especially vulnerable people.

 

The phoney email invites people to click on a web link where they are asked to enter their personal details and bank account. The website is fake and once the details have been entered the criminals are free to remove money from the bank account.

Trading standards officers are now reminding people that Ofgem would never sell you energy, ask for personal information or come to your property.  People shouldn’t click on weblinks or attachments on emails they are not sure about and never reply with any personal information or bank details.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council is responsible for Trading Standards at the authority.

 

Victoria said: “We know that the rising cost of living is putting extra pressures on many residents and sadly we are seeing criminals trying to exploit this situation.

 

“In this latest scam, criminals claiming to be from Ofgem lure people in with the offer of a rebate worth hundreds of pounds on their energy bills. It can look tempting and the emails can be very convincing but please be careful. Remember, any kind of unsolicited approach whether via email, text or even on the doorstep should start to ring alarm bells. 

 

“Getting caught up in a scam can be incredibly stressful and in the worst cases leave you badly out of pocket, so it’s vital we protect ourselves.

 

“If you are struggling with your energy bills, please seek advice from your energy supplier or a financial service. Getting help early can make a big difference, which is why we are helping people find information, advice and support to help them manage those cost of living pressures.”

By August, over 1,500 reports of the scam were reported to the Citizens Advice service. 

Officers are urging people to look out for those tell-tale signs and:

 

  • Reject, refuse or ignore contact from ‘Ofgem’ that looks or sounds unusual, such as a request for your bank or personal details

  • Check the email address carefully, Any emails to or from Ofgem always end @ofgem.gov.uk.

  • Check branding. The Ofgem logo will always be present in their communications. It should never look stretched, blurry or distorted

  • Only criminals will try to rush or panic you

 

This type of scam is known as a phishing scam but there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

 

  • Protect your computer by using anti-virus and firewall software

  • Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically

  • Protect your accounts by using multi factor authentication

 

People can learn how to spot and avoid scams at: Take Five - To Stop Fraud | To Stop Fraud (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk).

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