If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. As business energy scams are unfortunately becoming more and more frequent, it is crucial that you take every necessary precaution to protect your business. While most energy suppliers and even Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) are honest and trustworthy, it is in your own benefit that you prepare your business in case a scammer ever crosses your way. There are many different types of energy scam and it may seem daunting to keep up with every one of them, but there are a few patterns and indicators that you should know in order to protect your business.
Most businesses, no matter how big or small, have likely received a phone call from a scammer claiming to be their local utility company or energy provider. Be wary of these calls. One of the most common pathways that scammers use to contact businesses is through phone calls, and small businesses seem to be on the top of their list.
Unfortunately, the regulator of the UK energy market, Ofgem, still acknowledges verbal contracts as binding in the energy industry, so beware not to agree on anything over the phone. These callers can be extremely pushy, so don’t give in to the pressure. A legitimate energy supplier should never put you on the spot in that way.
Instead, ask them to pass on the information to you by post. This is a very common practice, and professional energy suppliers will be happy to do so. If you’re suspicious of the phone call, another thing you can do is call the customer service number on your business’s utility bills, as that number will definitely connect you to a real representative from the company.
Do your research. Before you sign any sort of deal with a company that you’ve never heard of, it’s very important that you do some background checks to make sure that the company is legitimate.
There are a few simple ways to do this. Firstly, take a look at their website and evaluate its authenticity by scanning for grammar mistakes - this should start raising a red flag.
You should also onsider going over forums and social media to see if people recommend this company.
Lastly and probably most importantly, call the company’s number to check for its authenticity. It’s a good sign if an actual employee answers the phone. However, be alerted if you are put through to an anonymous call centre. It’s recommended to have a healthy amount of suspicion when dealing with companies you’ve never heard of, especially those that will be supplying your energy.
The list of ongoing energy scams that target businesses just keeps on getting bigger. To avoid these, one of the best things to do is be aware of them and know how to respond to each situation.
One of the most common ones lately has been the electricity disconnection scam targeting small businesses, especially restaurant establishments. The scam consists of a call from a made-up energy supplier alerting the business owner that their gas and electricity will be immediately cut off unless the full bill is paid right there and then over the phone with a credit card.
In this situation, hang up the phone and be sure not to disclose any personal information, especially not your credit card details. In fact, most energy suppliers don’t even accept credit card payments over the phone.
Another common and sometimes very convincing scam is the one consisting of frequent phone calls (up to 30 – 40 every day) as soon as you move your business to a new location. In this case, the caller will probably tell you that if you don’t agree to a contract over the phone, your energy supply will be cut off immediately.
This is not true. When you move to a new property, the current energy supplier will continue to supply your business with gas and electricity. As soon as you move in, you will be ‘out of contract’, meaning that although you will be charged deemed rates (which are often overpriced), you are free to get a new energy deal with any supplier you wish.
The most important thing to remember is to stay calm when being pressured to sign a speedy contract over the phone. Instead of agreeing to something you may regret later, it is recommended that you take a step back and compare business energy deals to find the one that is right for you, away from any pressing scammers.
Additionally, beware of fraudsters offering your business energy-saving gadgets. The most common claim is that by purchasing a plug-in (hazardous) gadget you could save up to 40% of your business’s energy bills. Again, this sounds too good to be true, and it is.
Be sure to protect your business from these scammers. It will not only cost you large sums of money but will compromise the smooth-running of your business. It is in your favour to be sceptical and suspicious, so always remember never to disclose any type of personal or financial information to a company you don’t trust. Your business is your baby, protect it.