What with having a long and properly cold winter with real snow, rocketing power prices and the depressing prediction of a triple-dip recession, it is not surprising that some of us are looking to find ways of economising, especially when it comes to our power bills. But it is not only power customers that are looking to find ways of saving money or making some extra dosh. Fraudsters are taking advantage of the economic situation and using it to scam people out of their hard-earned cash with the lure of making a saving on their winter fuel bills, and ever keen to make a saving here and there thousands of us are falling for it.
Energy saving devices
Beware of rogue callers knocking on your door or telephoning you to offer you a fantastic new energy saving device. Scammers have been especially targeting the vulnerable and the elderly. Callers say that they are working with your energy supply company and that their plug in device will be able to save you up to 40% off your power bills. These devices don’t work and some of them have proved to be dangerous when tested. If you have been approached contact your local trading standards office. If you already think you have one unplug it straight away (it could pose a fire risk) and contact trading standards. These are not to be confused with smart meters which are specially installed meters supplied by your actual power supplier – smart meters tell you how much energy you are using and where in the house it is being used. Not all companies are installing smart meter but if you are interested you should contact your energy supplier. Suppliers like British Gas are rolling them out slowly as old meters wear out. The smart meter replaces your existing gas and electricity meter and takes an hour or two to install.
There have been a number of cold calling scams reported in the last few years – these include bogus power supply representatives and bogus insulation grant advisors taking advantage of the governments Green Deal initiative. Be wary of signing up to anything on your door step and if you are at all suspicious contact trading standards or the police who are monitoring and trying to catch the scammers. Also watch out for rogue builders, plumbers and electricians – always check out someone’s credentials carefully– a genuine company will have an online presence and an entry in the telephone directory. A company that has only a mobile phone number is always dubious.
If you want to avoid cold callers completely then put up a no cold callers sign on your door – legitimate companies are required to respect this by law. You can buy a readymade sign in your local hardware store or you can download a cold calling super sign to print at home from The Trading Standards Office. This sign clearly states that it is a criminal offence to knock when the householder has stated that they do not want you to.