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We have recently been alerted to a new scam being circulated across the UK. This phishing scam involves a text message that links you to a fake UK government website to register for the energy bills discount scheme.
Our Scam Alert will help you understand what the scam is, how to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming victims, and what you can do if you’ve been scammed.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is the use of ‘real’ or authentic looking messages or emails pretending to be someone else in order to gain access to your personal information and/or account details.
What Is The Energy Bills Scam?
Potential victims are contacted by scammer posing as ‘UK Help’ or GOVUK (multiple variations have been found) claiming to be from the official UK government. This is usually done via messaging service like iMessage.
The scam text will say something like ‘you are eligible for a discounted energy bill under the Energy Bills Support Scheme’ and provides a link for you to apply.
You are then instructed to insert your full name, phone number, date of birth, home address, and email address which they claim will help “determine how much you are eligible for.”
The following page will ask for your energy supplier as well as your card number, expiry date, and ‘security’ code.
The end game for these scammers is to access your banking and/or private information, which they can use for their own financial gain. The details this scam asks you to provide could all be used to impersonate you and access to your accounts.
A similar scam that impersonates energy watchdog Ofgem has been circulating, with over 1500 reports already made to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). These scams are taking advantage of the current concern many households in the UK are feeling due to the cost of living crisis.
IMPORTANT – the £400 discount for the UK government energy bill discount for all households WILL be applied automatically when it is released. You will not have to register or apply for anything. No household will be asked for their bank details at any point. Please follow official government guidance.
Three Top Signs to Spot the Energy Scam
Unknown number or ‘UK Help’
The ‘government website’ is ‘Not Secure’, has a different name, and/or ends with ‘.com’ instead of ‘.uk’ or ‘.gov’ (though any of these may appear ‘correct’)
Asking for your login, card, energy supplier, and personal details
What To Do If You’ve Been Targeted
Firstly, directly contact the organisation they are claiming to be. Ask if they have messaged you from a different number. If they haven’t and you haven’t yet sent any personal or private information to the scammer, you should block and report the scammer.
Never directly respond to the scammer. They may sell your details to other scammers who will bombard you with spam messages or calls.
If you have received the scam text message, forward it to 7726. This is a free service that will report the message to your mobile phone provider. If possible, note the number the scammer is contacting you from and any other information, such the landing page or text link. If you can, take a screenshot – this will be helpful information to include when reporting the scammer. It is recommended that you report the scam to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to help them understand how and where the scam is spreading.
If you have already given the scammer information, here are next steps you can take:
Phone the police. Contact the non-emergency number 101 and report the scam to the police.
Change your passwords. As soon as possible, change all passwords for accounts that have been compromised, as well as accounts that use similar account login details and passwords.
Cancel your card. Get in touch with your bank immediately and cancel your card. If you have internet banking set up, you may be able to do this online.
Go offline. Take your device offline so you won’t inadvertently send phishing links from your device to others. If you suspect you’re a victim of a ransomware attack, take your device offline and save as much as you can to a USB stick.