Electric bill scams: How to spot them & what to do

While technology has made paying our bills easier, persistent scams targeting energy customers are still rife in the Australian energy market.

Lately, fake energy bills have become a prevalent scam, with numerous energy companies cautioning customers about recent phone and door-to-door frauds nationwide. Previously, scammers have also used email, SMS, and postal methods in order to fool customers into parting with their money.

Even if you trust your ability to detect scams, it can be challenging to remain calm and rational when someone is demanding payment over the phone and threatening to disconnect your electricity.

Anyone can be deceived, so here are some tips to help you recognise fraudulent bills and protect yourself from scammers. Although this advice focuses on energy bills, it is also useful for avoiding other types of scams.

What is an electric bill scam?

An electric bill scam is a fraudulent scheme where scammers pose as legitimate energy providers to trick customers into paying fake bills.

These scams can occur through various methods such as phone calls, emails, SMS, or door-to-door visits. Scammers often create a sense of urgency, threatening to disconnect the electricity if immediate payment isn't made.

Scammers may use official-looking logos and documents to appear credible, but their goal is to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting victims - like you. If someone has contacted you to discuss your bills, it's essential to verify any unexpected communication from your energy provider and contact them directly if you suspect a scam.

How to spot an electric bill scam

As scams become increasingly sophisticated, it's crucial to recognise the warning signs.

The best thing to do if you think you’re encountering a scam or a suspicious message is reach out to your energy provider directly for a chat.

Always avoid clicking on dubious links or sharing personal information unless you are absolutely certain you are interacting with your genuine provider. And always keep in mind – if an offer seems unusually good, it’s likely a scam.

How to spot an electric bill scam

The good news about electric bill scams is that they can be easy to spot - but only if you know what to look for. The more educated you are on how to spot an electric bill scam, the faster it will be that you spot them. Let’s take a look at some of the things to look for so that you can be ready:

Always double check your account number

If someone contacts you talking about your energy bill, double check your account number with the person on the phone and ask them to read it back to you. If they cannot verify your account number, hang up and call your electricity company yourself to ask them if they called you. Generally, if there’s no account number, it could be a scam.

Check the energy provider email

If you’ve been sent a bill via email, you should double check where the email has come from first and foremost. Usually, you can tell whether or not an email has come from a scam provider based on this alone. Scammers will often choose to send emails en masse to people in the hope of fooling them, as this is a fast way to catch people off guard.

Are the details personal?

Your full name and other specific details like your address usually appear on a genuine electric bill. If the message is too generic and too impersonal, it could be a broadly sent scam. Compare the older bills that you get via post and email to know what details your usual provider includes.

Spelling errors

Bills that come from reputable providers are usually without error. If you’ve received a bill with awkward phrasing, spelling mistakes and inconsistencies, it could be an easy to spot scam.

The website is inauthentic

It’s important to verify that the links that you’ve been redirected to are legit. They should have a security lock in the left corner of the web address to show its security certificate, and if something seems off, contact your provider and find out what’s right and what’s wrong.

Never download files from links

If you are emailed a link to go to, ignore the link and go to the provider website to find the information that you need. Only ever download files from the official website and not from links that could be scammer links. The key? Don’t trust anything unless you can double check it yourself.

Myths about electric bill scams to be aware of

There are several myths out there about electric bill scams. Being aware of them keeps you on your toes - stay vigilant with these myths and their reality:

Myth: Scams are email based.

The reality is that scammers will use any method possible to take your money. They’ll call you, they’ll text you and they’ll even use postal mail and door to door visits to get what they want.

Myth: Scammers target the most vulnerable only.

The reality of this one is that while scammers will often target elderly people to confuse them, scammers target EVERYONE and hope their scam lands in the right place. If they manage to catch someone in their snare, they’re happy no matter who they scam.

Myth: Caller ID shows the caller is legit

Did you know that a caller ID looking like your provider name doesn’t mean that it’s from them? Some scammers are sophisticated enough to be able to spoof the provider’s information and make it appear as if the call is coming from a trusted source.

Myth: Scammers always make mistakes

You’d think that every scam letter or email will be littered with mistakes, but honestly, it’s not the case every single time. Some scam information comes through without issue and without mistakes, making them ever more sophisticated.

Myth: They always want your money

Scammers are always after your money, right? Well, sure, but they’re mostly after your information. Some scams involve being called and they tell you that they owe you money. When this happens, it’s to take your banking information or use your account to launder money. They’re not going to give you money.

Myth: A scam is always obvious

We wish we could say this is true, but it’s not. Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated as time moves on and technology gets better. Some scams are so difficult to spot these days, appearing like genuine communications from your energy company.

Myth: You’re helpless if you fall for it

You should contact your energy provider, your bank and the ACCC’s Scamwatch if you suspect a scam has happened to you. The quicker you take action, the easier it gets to stop scammers. You are not helpless; they are just that sophisticated.

Contact Compare Energy

If you’re concerned that your information has been stolen, or your energy provider isn’t doing enough to protect you from scams, then contact us and we’ll talk you through making a switch. Compare Energy can work with you to ensure that you are matched to the best provider for your budget.