Phoney gas bills sent to email inboxes
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence of fake gas bills sent to the public via email.
The bogus bill, made up to look like an official communication from British Gas, informs the recipient that they owe money to the company after failing to pay a previous bill.
The message threatens the recipient with a fine if they do not pay up. It reads, "if we do not receive a payment or hear from you in the next two days and we have to contact you again, you will be charged £140 to cover our reasonable costs."
The email intimidates the reader further by mentioning a potential home visit, stating, "if we have to visit your property to collect this debt you will be charged £540."
The email then warns that they will "obtain a court warrant" and issue a further fine of £750. Finally, the message then links to a phoney payment page which takes payment details and sends them to scammers.
Katherine Hart, Lead Officer at CTSI, said: "The public should not respond to, or click on any links in these emails. They are simply a tool to steal personal details and money from the recipient.
"The emails usually look very authentic and carry the exact branding of the specific company they mimic - do not be fooled.
"If you are unsure about the validity of an email, contact your supplier and alert them to the message. These messages attempt to panic the recipient so that they act without thinking, always take five minutes and think."
The public and businesses are encouraged to join Friends Against Scams and Businesses Against Scams, respectively. These initiatives aim to protect and prevent people and businesses from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.
If you think you've been scammed, report it to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland dial 101 and report it to Police Scotland. Advice and guidance on how to protect yourself, or your business, from fraud and cybercrime, is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-fraud-and-cyber-crime.
To report email scams, contact the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors:
CTSI Press Office: email@example.com, 01268 582240
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
CTSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk