Cost of living crisis: watch out for the energy bill relief scheme scammers

Fraudsters are looking to take advantage of business owners’ anxieties around the cost of living and rising energy bills. Make sure you stay alert to the latest scam.

Energy bill relief for businesses

In September, for  customers that did not benefit from the Ofgem price cap, the government announced a new six-month support scheme for English, Scottish and Welsh businesses and non-domestic energy users (including charities and public sector organisations like schools). 

The scheme provides energy bill relief for businesses and is being applied to energy usage initially between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023. There is a similar scheme for Northern Ireland, providing a comparable level of support. 

However, scammers are keen to cash in on the cost-of-living crisis, which means government support schemes are being exploited by fraudsters for financial gain. Andrew May, from the bank’s Fraud Prevention team says “We continue to see fraudsters exploiting what is going on around us in the UK, particularly headline news, in an attempt to draw businesses into scams”.

If you get an email, text message or phone call from someone asking for your bank details in relation to one of the energy bill relief schemes, it could be a scam. Before you fall victim, just remember: 

  • Your energy bill relief scheme discount is automatic – suppliers will apply reductions to the bills of all eligible non-domestic customers, so there’s no need for you to provide your bank details to receive the discount.
  • Ofgem, your bank, or any other official source will never ask you to supply personal or business information via email or a text message.
  • If you receive a scam email or text message, do not click on the link or enter any personal or business information.
  • If you believe an action needs to be taken following receipt of a message, go directly to your provider via their website or contact number rather than using anything on the message itself.

Phishing messages are being sent at a time when vulnerable business owners are expecting to receive authentic information about support with energy bills. If you suspect you have received a scam email, text message or phone call, report it to Action Fraud, the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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