The Government has condemned “disgusting” scam emails that are seeking to “rip off people” trying to access its energy bills support.
Scammers have attempted to target UK households by impersonating the Government through emails saying they are eligible for a £400 discount under the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS).
The emails ask the recipient to share details including their name, address and debit or credit card details in order to “receive the rebate”.
The EBSS entitles every household in England, Scotland and Wales to a £400 discount to help with bills.
Households in Northern Ireland automatically get a £600 payment towards their energy bills through the separate Northern Ireland EBSS.
The package of support was brought in in May last year after wholesale energy costs soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this time last year.
But the Government stressed that most households do not need to apply for the energy support because it is received automatically through their electricity bill or via credit or vouchers directly from their electricity supplier.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “It is disgusting that scammers seek to rip off people at a time when they are simply trying to get the Government support they’re entitled to.
“Households with a direct connection to an electricity supplier do not need to apply for the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
“Most customers receive it automatically through their electricity bill and customers on prepayment meters receive a credit or vouchers direct from their electricity supplier.
“Consumers should stay alert to potential scams and report them when they are suspected.”
Watch out for Energy Bills Support Scheme scams!
❌ You don’t need to apply for the scheme❌ You don’t need to give your bank details
If you get a message asking you to apply or for details – it’s a scam.
— CitizensAdvice (@CitizensAdvice) December 7, 2022
More than three quarters of all EBSS vouchers have been redeemed and £1.7 million was used in January alone, BEIS said this week.
It means that a record amount of Government support reached some of the country’s most vulnerable households in January, with vouchers redeemed by those on traditional prepayment meters.
Some £530 million has been provided so far under the scheme, it revealed.
It comes after fraudulent texts began circulating last year, inviting people to apply for the £400 discount and encouraging them to set up a direct debit to receive the money.
The Government said it does not currently have data on the total volume of scams in this area, but it is trying to track down scammers and counteract them.
It added that cyber criminals are “opportunistic” and will use issues such as rising energy bills to try to trick people into sharing their financial or personal details.
People who think they have received suspect emails can forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org and to Action Fraud.