Hotmail and Gmail users are being put on alert about a new scam message that tries to take advantage of concerns surrounding the cost of living crisis. The callous new attack was revealed by consumer champions Which? who spotted the bogus British Gas message. The email claims the recipient is owed a refund of hundreds of pounds for allegedly overpaying on their energy bills last year.
The message directs Gmail and Hotmail users to a bogus website where they are told to enter their details in order to allegedly claim the windfall.
However, it is all part of an elaborate scam to get concerned Brits to hand over sensitive personal information.
These types of scams – especially if they ask for financial information like bank details – can be extremely costly for victims, as it can lead to cyber crooks stealing funds from an unsuspecting victim’s bank account.
Speaking about the scam, Which? said: “The email uses the official British Gas logo and branding and is addressed to your email address.
“Although the email looks seemingly legitimate, addressing you by your email address and not your name is a potential giveaway that it’s from a fraudster.”
The offending email says: “British Gas wants to inform you that you are eligible for a payment refund. Our records indicate that you have paid more than you should have for your British Gas service from 2020 – 2021.
“Because of this reason and that we value our clients we have decided to refund the total amount which you have overpaid.”
There is then a button at the bottom which says ‘claim your refund now’ which directs users to a fake British Gas website.
If you have received this email you can forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to report it to authorities.
Also, to help you stay clear of such scams here are a few things to lookout for…
• Beware of any messages you receive out of the blue asking for personal or financial information
• Double check the sender’s details for any messages that appear to be a scam
• Lookout for typos or grammar errors as these type of mistakes shouldn’t be in an official correspondence
• Messages that try to convey some sense of urgency should be treated with caution. It’s easy to say this – and especially difficult when you receive a scary message in the heat of the moment – but try to pause and analyse a message carefully before responding
• If you are still uncertain whether a message is a scam or not contact the organisation in question directly. Head to the firm’s official website to get contact details, don’t use those provided in a potential scam message, to confirm if the correspondence you have received is real or not
• Remember the old adage – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And that sage advice can be applied to the vast majority of scam hoaxes