British Gas email scam rears its ugly head again
Energy consumers are being urged to take extra care with their details as old phishing scams resurface amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Read on to find out what to do if you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from British Gas.
Here at Selectra, our call centre is becoming inundated with calls from British Gas customers and customers of other providers who have been receiving the same suspicious email purporting to be from the provider.
The email has caused a number of consumers to hand over personal information to scammers, so we’re going to look into what it says and then go into how you can avoid falling for it.
What does the British Gas scam email say?
The scam is as old-hat as internet hoaxes go, typically carries the British Gas logo and claims that the user’s bill has yet to be paid and that they owe £18.41 - it always seems to be this specific amount.
The email goes on to say that further delay in payment will result in extra charges. It even threatens a home visit and that recipients of the e-mail will be charged up to £540 if they fail to comply. Rachel McCann, one of our call centre team leaders, had this to say about the hoax:
“At a time when many people have lost their jobs and are really struggling to make ends meet, this email has caused significant panic, especially among the more vulnerable customers.”
“The main concern for us here,” McCann goes on to say, “is that some customers have proceeded to submit their bank details in a bid to avoid racking up debts. Our agents have been working to reassure and inform these customers, many of whom aren't and never have been customers of British Gas.”
The problem is that some scam emails look very similar to those they receive from their provider, so how do you tell if it’s a scam and what do you do when you get an email like this?
What to do if you get a suspicious email?
The first thing to note is that, if you’re not a British Gas customer or never have been, it’s unlikely you have an outstanding bill with them and the email is probably a scam. If you’ve recently been a British Gas customer, however, or you currently are, you may have less reason to smell a rat.
Fortunately, British Gas has published a series of guidelines on its website for identifying scam emails and how to separate the authentic from the fraudulent. Here’s a list of things you should look for when trying to spot a phishing scam:
- British Gas emails always address the customer by name. If you’re not directly addressed, but addressed as “Dear customer” instead, it’s probably not from British Gas!
- If the email is in actual fact related to your energy account, it will state the account number somewhere.
- Authentic British Gas emails will only link you back to the British Gas website, but to be safe it’s best not to click on any links, especially if you suspect it may be a hoax.
- Most importantly, you will never be asked to confirm, update or provide personal details via email by British Gas.
If you ask us, the last point is the most important take-away. If you’re being asked to divulge sensitive personal information, that’s a big giveaway that someone is trying to scam you in itself, so take care not to do it!
Beware typos and strange-looking linksThe British Gas website also warns that scammers tend not to have great grammar and will include odd links - if it doesn’t begin with britishgas.co.uk, it’s probably not them!