Warning: Watch out for fake texts offering you help with your energy bills – they're a scam
Watch out for fake text messages claiming to be from the Government, inviting you to apply for the £400 energy bill support. They're a scam – the £400 will be paid automatically. You do not need to apply.
We were first alerted to the scam by people on Twitter who had received the messages. The context of the scam is the same across the majority of the texts we've seen, though the name of the sender appears to differ. One recipient got theirs from 'UK Help', while another came from 'Help Scheme'. Others have reported the messages being from an unknown number.
The messages tell you that you are eligible to apply for a discounted energy bill as part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
But this is a scam and should be ignored or reported – see below for more info on how to do this.
Here's an example of the scam text
These messages follow similar warnings about scam messages claiming to be from local government authorities and the energy regulator Ofgem. For more information, see our 30+ ways to stop scams guide or if you need further bill help, see our Struggling with energy bills guide.
The £400 energy rebate is automatic – you do NOT need to apply
The £400 energy rebate scheme – initially announced in February as a £200 payment – will see households in England, Scotland and Wales with a domestic electricity account get a non-repayable grant of £400 between October 2022 and March 2023. It'll be paid in instalments of £66 in October and November, then £67 from December to March.
It's also been confirmed that households in Northern Ireland will receive a £400 discount on bills through the Northern Ireland Energy Bills Support Scheme.
If you think you've been scammed, here's what to do
Take the following steps:
- If you've already responded to a scam, end all further communication immediately.
- Call your bank directly and cancel any recurring payments – or, for speed and ease, you can call the new 159 hotline.
- Report the scam to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or report a scam anonymously on the Action Fraud website. If you're in Scotland, report a scam through Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or on the Advice Direct Scotland website. You can also report scams to Police Scotland on 101.
- If you want more help, contact Citizens Advice Scams Action via the Citizens Advice website, or call its Scams Action helpline on 0808 250 5050.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) sets out a number of different ways to report scams depending on the type:
- Emailed scams. If you get a dodgy looking email, you can report it to the NCSC by forwarding it to email@example.com. Remember not to click on any links within these emails.
- Text scams. If you get a suspicious text message, you can forward it to the number 7726 – this will allow your provider to track the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender if it's a scam. You can also report scam text messages to firstname.lastname@example.org – remember to provide a screenshot of the text message.
- Website scams. If you notice a website that doesn't look quite right, you can easily report the web address to the NCSC directly via its online form.
- Scam adverts. These can currently be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) through its online form.