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Avoiding Electricity Meter Scams

By Edited Apr 18, 2014 2 2

Don't Get Caught Out

When you have a prepaid electricity meter with a British gas and electric company, getting a top up is inconvenient at best and a huge hassle or financial burden at worst. Prepaid customers can’t get credit for the energy they use and then pay at the end of the month like customers with traditional meters. Instead, you are required to put financial credit on a card or key, and then place that device into your meter to allow the electricity to stay on. When your credit runs out, so does the power in your home. These meters are usually installed on homes where the residents have become indebted to their energy company and suffer financial difficulties. Unfortunately, this attracts scam artists who seek to take advantage of prepaid customers. Follow these tips to avoid become the victim of an electricity scam.


The Basics


The basic principle of energy scams is this: someone knocks on your door, and offers to sell you an electricity card for about half the cost of its value. In reality, the cards or keys being offered have been topped up illegally. Once you have paid cash to the scammer for the illegal energy card, it may work in your meter. However, your energy company is able to detect that this card has not actually been paid for and will bill you for the electricity in the future. Ultimately, you will end up paying both the criminal who sold you the card and then your electricity company. By this time, the scam artist is long gone and you can’t recoup the money you paid him. According to Action Fraud in the UK, upwards of 100,000 people have already fallen victim to this scam.


The Targets


For the most part, those customers who have a prepayment electricity meter have the greatest potential to be affected by this scam. If you are on a standard meter and pay for electricity after you have already used it, a top up card will obviously be of no use to you. Because a criminal may not know who has a prepayment meter in your neighborhood, however, someone may still try to scam you using these schemes. Never let anyone convince you that a standard meter can use a top up card or that you should buy a top up card now and then switch to a prepayment meter.


Protecting Yourself


Keeping yourself safe from this scam is fairly simple. If someone knocks on your door and offers to sell you a top up card, always decline. A representative from British Gas or other energy providers will never come knocking on your door to try to sell you more energy credit for your meter. These companies rely on legitimate shop fronts and the post office to top up prepaid cards, and do not contract individuals to seek you out at home to sell you anything. If someone shows up at your home offering you energy at a very cheap rate, you can be certain that you are being lied to and should never accept the offer at any time. Again, this can not only result in a financial loss, but also trouble with your energy supplier down the line.


Reporting Scams


If someone does knock on your door purporting to be from an electricity company, you should report the matter to prevent others from potentially falling victim to the same scam that you avoid. Contact your energy provider and give details about the date and time of the attempted scam, as well as any information you have about the individuals involved. You may also want to call your local law enforcement, as the activity of selling cloned top up cards is considered criminal. To reach out by telephone, it’s also possible to call Consumer Direct at 08454 04 05 06. For more information, you can also visit top-upsafe.com.


Meter scams are becoming more and more prevalent, and, unfortunately, when there is a downturn in the economy the cheap rates criminals offer can be very enticing. Never accept a discounted top up card for your electricity meter, however, or you could be out a lot of money. If you continue to use these cloned cards, you may even find yourself in some hot water with authorities.
 

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Comments

Jul 3, 2013 2:33pm
moronkee
Thanks for the advice.
Jul 3, 2013 8:07pm
MindYourOwnBusiness
I am not from UK, but I learned something new about scamming electricity in UK.
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