Consumers have been warned about scam messages claiming people need to apply for government energy bill support and asking them to provide bank details.
The first instalment of the £400 discount for households will be automatically added to bills from October 1, but fraudsters are already taking advantage of the government support.
Scammers are attempting to cash in by sending emails or text messages that appear genuine with information on how to claim the discount.
But there is no need to apply for any of the government cost of living schemes, and people are being urged not to hand over their bank details if they receive a suspicious message.
Citizens Advice, who says scams like this these are on the rise, has explained that sometimes fraudsters will pretend to be from an energy supplier, or even from energy regulator Ofgem, will and claim they are offering a refund.
They might also say they are from the local council or another organisation.
So how do you know if a meassage is a scam, and what do you do if you suspect you've been targeted?
How to spot a scam
"The £400 energy bill refund will come back automatically. For most people it’ll be paid either via a reduction in your direct debit payment, or a refund onto your credit or other payment card," Citizens Advice says.
"For people on prepayment meters it’ll either be credited directly into the account, or given in the form of a voucher."
This means you do not need to contact your provider, local council or Ofgem (the energy regulator).
Look out for messages that include links to fake Ofgem websites, and be wary of any message that encourages you to:
Provide your name, date of birth or any one personal detail
Set up a direct debit with a promise you will receive money
Citizens Advice that if "someone rings you, or contacts you, to ask for personal or financial information, chances are they’re a scammer".
"Scams can be difficult to spot, but if it’s genuine, they won’t ask you to make any payment, and they won’t need passwords or pin numbers. If in doubt, have a look at the scams checklist on the Citizens Advice website."
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Be wary of messages that link to sites which include:
How do I know if a message is genuine?If it’s genuine, they won’t ask you to make any payment, and they won’t need passwords or pin numbers.
What if I've been contacted?
If you are in any doubt as to the authenticity of a message, you should contact the organisation it claims to come from directly.
If you are called by someone claiming to be from Ofgem or an energy supplier and who is ask for your bank details, hang up and call the company back.
But do not use the numbers or address in the message or any they may give you over the phone. Visit the official website or use contact details from a genuine letter you may have received.
Official organisations (including banks and energy suppliers) will not ever ask you to give out personal information via email.
Consumers are being urged to report any suspected scams. If you’re unsure about an email, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re unsure about a text, forward it (for free) to 7726.