While such practice is thankfully rare, there are concerns scammers may attempt to use the Coronavirus pandemic as a “hook” to take advantage of customers.
The energy industry has teamed up with Citizens Advice to remind the public of three simple steps to take if an unexpected caller arrives at the door.
- Check their credentials. Companies will do their best to say in advance that someone is coming to visit, but sometimes that's not always possible. If an engineer arrives at the door, they will always show identification which has a number and an expiry date.
- Contact the company. If you have any doubts, contact the company to verify the caller’s identity. Genuine employees won’t mind waiting.
- Don’t feel pressured. If you’re still not comfortable, don’t let them in. Call someone – a family member, neighbour or friend who can help. Call the police on 101 or if you feel threatened, dial 999.
People may still see utility key workers in communities during lockdown, as they carry out their vital role in keeping Britain’s energy flowing. As scammers and bogus callers also use other methods such as fraudulent mail or phone calls, we’re reminding the public to remain vigilant and check if something doesn’t feel right.
Energy Networks Association represents the companies which operate the UK and Ireland's electricity and gas networks - the 'wires and pipes'.
David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said:
“During lockdown, energy network companies are prioritising work and you might still see our colleagues working near your home. We’re doing essential work to keep Britain’s energy flowing. If an engineer visits your property you should check their ID, contact the company and if you’re still unsure, you don’t have to let them in. Genuine utility workers won’t mind waiting while you check.”
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Unfortunately scammers can take advantage of uncertain and worrying times to prey on members of the public. So it’s right to be suspicious if someone contacts you out of the blue – whether it’s on the doorstep, over the phone, or by mail or email.
“Other red flags include feeling pressured or an offer sounding too good to be true.
“If you think you’ve been targeted by an online scammer you can contact the dedicated Citizens Advice Scams Action service on 0808 250 5050. Or if you've been contacted by an online scammer on our consumer service on 0808 223 1133.”
Energy UK represents the UK's energy suppliers, generators, and other stakeholders with a business interest in the production and supply of electricity and gas for domestic and business consumers.
Audrey Gallacher, Energy UK’s interim chief executive, said:
“Although suppliers have stopped making non-essential home visits, their workers are still out there making sure customers stay on supply and carrying out urgent safety work. When visiting people’s homes, they will always do everything possible to reassure customers that they’re genuine - but if you have any doubts at all, don’t hesitate to double check.”