Victorians warned to beware of scams with a $250 electricity savings bonus
Victorians are being urged to be on the lookout for a simple phone scam where fake energy comparison companies collect simple personal information in order to claim the government’s $250 energy saving bonus for themselves.
Since July, all Victorian households can receive a $250 payment if they look for better energy deals to help address the cost of living crisis.
Watch the video above for advice on how to avoid scams
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To date, more than 1.2 million households have had their one-off payment applications approved and paid out.
To request payment, homeowners simply need to go online and upload a PDF of their bill or enter a few simple details such as meter number, address, and energy provider.
However, that simplicity also makes it an easy scam process, as Lalor resident Ajanthan Alagaratnam found out two weeks ago.
Alagaratnam received a call from someone claiming to be from an energy comparison company and asked numerous questions about their current provider.
“You started (asking) which provider … you’re currently using and on top of that you get discounts and we’ll look into a better energy provider for you,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.
“I was like, ‘Who are these guys? Why would they give me a discount on my energy bill?”
Alagaratnam asked if he could check with his energy supplier instead and get those details from him, but the scammers said those discounts are only available through them.
They then began asking him for specific details about his electric bill, such as his name, address, meter number, and NMI (National Meter Identifier).
When he applied for the government’s $250 energy savings bonus last week, he found all of those details were identical to those required to claim payment through the online form.
“Once you give them those details, it’s easier for you to provide a bank account number and transfer that amount to that specific bank account number,” Alagaratnam said.
“The questions are very simple and (it) is easy for them to scam people.”
Luckily, the Lalor resident only gave the scammer a few details before quickly realizing something was wrong and hanging up.
Since then, however, he has received numerous calls from the same people on different numbers.
In response to these scams, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning told 7NEWS.com.au: “The Power Saving Bonus scheme was designed with strict anti-fraud measures in place for both the application and payment processes – which were independently assessed and we continuously monitor for fraud.”
7NEWS.com.au understands the department has received eight reports of potentially fraudulent behaviour, with most reports arriving shortly after the July 1 launch.
So far there is no evidence that anyone has been scammed.
While Alagaratnam was fortunate to note the fact that he was likely scammed, he worries for those, like older Victorians, who will not.
“The target audience wasn’t people like us. The target group is very old people because they were well built, like the way they spoke,” he said.
He said further security measures needed to be taken.
“They (should) have something like a one-time pin code or passcode that … (only) the original electricity owner can access. That would be helpful.”
Those who believe they may have been scammed out of their $250 energy savings bonus can contact the department at email@example.com or call 1800 000 832.
https://7news.com.au/news/victorians-warned-to-watch-out-for-250-power-saving-bonus-scam–c-7973284 Victorians warned to beware of scams with a $250 electricity savings bonus