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Police warn of energy discount scams amid cost-of-living crisis

'Scammers are actively targeting those who are financially vulnerable in a bid to exploit an extremely difficult situation'

Police are warning the public to be on their guard against fraudsters operating cost-of-living scams.

The message comes after a scammer contacted a local resident claiming to be from an energy company and offering to pay them a grant.

The scammer claimed they needed bank details to pay money into their account.

The person recognised this as a scam and provided no details.

Police said they are also aware of energy discount scam texts that are circulating.

Chair of Scamwise NI Partnership, PSNI, Superintendent Gerard Pollock said: “Anyone can be targeted by a scam but, with rising energy costs, we’ve seen how here, and in other parts of the UK,  scammers are actively targeting those who are financially vulnerable in a bid to exploit an extremely difficult situation.”

Possible approaches from scammers include making false offers of energy refunds, energy discounts, tax rebates and cost-of-living payments.

“Please, do not let yourself be fooled,” said Superintendent Pollock. “The easiest way to stop a scam is to apply these five rules – hang up the call immediately; always delete texts requesting personal information or bank account details; never call the number back; never click on links in text messages, or respond to unsolicited texts; never ever transfer money at the request of someone you do not know.

“This last one is really important, and it will really key in preventing these criminals gaining access to your money and you losing out, so it’s worth reiterating you should never transfer money to another account having received a call from someone you do not know.”

Anyone who has been a victim of a scam is asked to report it to police on 101, or online at www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ and to their bank immediately.

Reports may also be made to the  Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Information and advice is available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni      

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