How to protect yourself from energy scams

How to protect yourself from energy scams

19 October 2022

Energy-related financial scams are becoming increasingly common. Here, we tell you what to look for, and what to do if you’re the victim of a scam.

Phishing is a type of fraud

Phishing is when scammers get in touch pretending to be from a trusted company like your bank or energy supplier. They do this to trick you into revealing your financial details, such as your passwords or credit card number, or to download a virus onto your computer.

Common phishing scams to look out for

Most phishing scams come via email, although phone, text, and social-media scams are common, too. And it’s not unheard of for fraudsters to turn up at your house, pretending to be from a company.

Criminals will often create an email or website that looks like it comes from a bona-fide business. Usually they’ll then claim that someone has tried to reset your password, you’re owed money, or they haven’t received your payments.

The fraudsters rely on you assuming it’s a genuine message and clicking on a link. This will take you to a website that asks you for personal information, such as your name, address, and bank details, or it may download a virus onto your computer.

illustration of a notebook and a magnifying glass

How do energy scams work?

Some scammers are pretending to be from Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, or the Government, and telling energy customers they’re eligible for a rebate, refund, or grant. Other fraudsters may say they’re from the council, or are contacting you about your Shell Energy account.

How scams are affecting Shell Energy customers

Here are some real-life examples of how scammers have targeted our customers in recent months:

• One customer received a series of phone calls from someone pretending to be us, telling him that he owed money on his Shell Energy account

• Another customer received a phone call from someone pretending to be us and asking for her personal details

• One of our customers received a visit from someone claiming to be setting up accounts and Direct Debits on our behalf

You may also come across online scams, where fraudsters set up websites selling fake energy-saving devices claiming they can save you huge amounts on your energy bill. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

How to spot a scam

There are some things we’ll never ask you for.

For instance, if you pay by Direct Debit, we’ll already have your payment details, so we won’t send you an unsolicited email or text asking for these.

We’ll also never ask for your password, or for payment in any other currency than £/GBP. And we won’t ask you to pay using a link to another website, or to a different bank account.

If in doubt, you’re always welcome to contact us and check.

Protecting yourself from scammers

Scammers rely on the fact that you may be distracted and not paying attention. If you’re checking messages in the supermarket queue, or on the school run, you’re less likely to read them properly.

Illustration of a badge saying 'how to protect yourself'

Here are our tips for protecting yourself:

Take time to think

The best way you can protect yourself is to hold off responding until you’ve had a chance to think it through. Ignore any pressure from the sender, especially if they’re saying that you’re going to miss out on an amazing deal, or need to make a payment straight away.

Call back

If someone calls claiming to be from a respected organisation, such as your bank or energy supplier, and asks you to make a payment or give personal details, it’s safer to end the call and ring the company back using the customer services number on their website.

Use the official contact details

If you receive what you think might be a scam text or email, don’t call the number in the message. Instead, go to the company’s official website and use the contact details listed there.

For more advice on how best to protect yourself from scammers, take a look at our help page.

How to tell a genuine email from a scam

Scam messages often try to make you feel like you need to act urgently. But it’s always worth taking a moment to pause and look again. There are a few ways you can spot a scam.

Look out for:

• Spelling or grammatical errors

• Email addresses with extra parts added

• Graphics that look squished or pixellated

Here’s how you can check a Shell Energy email is genuine.

And remember, Ofgem will never try to sell you energy, ask for personal information, or turn up at your property.

What to do if you receive a suspicious phone call, email or text

Think something looks or sounds phishy? Here’s how to report it:

• Emails – forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk

• SMSs – forward to 7726 (this is free)

• Phone calls – If you’re in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can report phone calls to Action Fraud

What to do if you fall for a scam

Scams happen all the time and are becoming ever more sophisticated. If you fall victim to one, please don’t feel embarrassed – it can happen to anyone.

If you think you’ve been scammed and made a payment, the first thing you should do is call your bank so they can cancel any payments, or freeze your account if necessary.

If you've lost money, have been hacked as a result of responding to a phishing message or simply received a suspicious phone call, you should report it:

In England, Wales or Northern Ireland, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.

In Scotland, report to Police Scotland by calling 101.

Visit our scam help pages to find out more about what to do if you’re the victim of a scam and learn more about how to protect yourself from energy scams.

Find out more

Check out the useful resources below:

    • Age UK’s avoiding scams guide has plenty of helpful information on the different types of scams
    • The Government offers up-to-date advice on how to report scams and what to look out for
    • Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. If you’ve been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime in the UK, you should report it to them
    • Police Scotland offers useful advice on various types of scams and how to avoid them