It’s a sad fact that in most walks of life there are those who are happy to con, trick and lie their way in order to achieve success.
Business energy is sadly not immune to these issues. Whilst the vast majority of participants, whether the suppliers themselves or TPIs (Third Party Intermediaries), are honest, reputable and focused on getting you a good deal, there are those who will try any scam possible to trick you into an energy deal that benefits them and only them.
Here’s a run-down of the latest scams in business energy.
The rate too good to be true scam
We've recently heard from a number of customers that they've been offered some staggeringly cheap rates for their energy contract, prices that despite our bulk-buying discount we cannot apparently match. Has our business lost its touch? No of course not, it's another scam.
Customers are visiting fairly unprofessional looking websites offering gems of advice such as "Cheapest Gas and Electricity Supplier (sic)", "R U paying too much?" and are then offered a fabulous rate, which mysteriously changes as soon as the customer accepts the offer, as the "market has moved".
Utter hogwash. If you're offered a rate that's "too good to be true" then it is. It is either a completely bogus rate that will change as soon as you accept (ours won't) or it is an element of the price and not the whole price (ours are). Our best advice: 1) don't use unprofessional looking websites 2) never accept a price that suddenly changes, there may be a good reason, but it is doubtful, so always call another broker (ideally us!) and check that market!
The Security Deposit Scam
Customers receive a call from an individual claiming to represent the "Bank of New York" or some other grandly named institution. The individual then proceeds to tell the customer that the switch to their favoured supplier has been unsuccessful and that they need to immediately pay the "Bank of New York" a hefty sum of money as a security deposit which will be passed onto the supplier.
It won't be.
It is true that in some instances energy suppliers will ask a business for a security deposit if they are deemed to be a high risk business e.g. a start-up, having a low credit score, or having uncleared supplier debt or CCJs. This request will always come from the supplier, to be paid to the supplier. Your broker may be the messenger, but they will not be the recipient.
If you receive a call claiming to be the "Bank of New York" or any other organisation other than your supplier or trusted energy broker and they request a payment from you for your energy supply then end the call and for peace of mind call your energy broker to a) check your energy contract is all ok and b) whether you are genuinely required to pay a security deposit. In all likelihood you won't and this scam will be shown up for exactly what it is.
The Utilities Registration Service Scam
Customers receive a call from an official sounding source calling himself or herself the ‘Utilities Registration Service’ or ‘Metering Registration Service’ or something similar.
No such official bodies exist.
The caller will tell you that there is an issue with your energy supply and that you need to immediately switch supplier. They will then recommend to whom you should switch.
This is a simple cold call scam, pretending to be an official body and trying to get you to sign up to a poor value business energy contract.
Don’t let them win, put the phone down and call Business Juice… even if you've no intention to switch supplier we can reassure you that all is ok with your energy supply and that there is nothing to worry about.
The Editing Suite Scam
Business Energy contracts are largely executed on verbal contract recordings. A reputable TPI or supplier will record your entire call or calls including your full verbal acceptance of the contract.
In doing so this ensures that the supplier knows exactly what you agreed to, what you were told, and what you expect from them.
Unfortunately however certain parties go to great lengths to ‘fake’ call recordings, some are even known to have deployed editing suites to fuse together affirmative responses to questions a business was never asked.
Whilst there is little that can be done to stop a determined fraudster, it is your right to demand a copy of any recording, and indeed it would be prudent to demand to know that your entire conversation has been recorded and that you wish to receive this in full before you agree to any verbal contract or otherwise.
If in doubt, put the phone down and call someone you can trust like Business Juice.
The Just Moved In Scam
Most business energy fraud happens around the time you move into new premises.
The con is an unsubtle one, it is simply pressurized selling, with 10, 20, maybe 30 calls in quick succession until your willpower fails or the scare stories you are being told force you to act.
You will be told that as a party moving into a premise you must have a valid energy contract and if you don’t sign up immediately you will have your supply cut off and/or will be paying penalty rates.
This is totally untrue.
When moving into a premise you will inherit the obligation to be supplied, but not the contract, of the existing supplier. The existing supplier will supply you until you tell them you don’t want them to any more.
As an uncontracted customer you are free to leave the supplier at any point or indeed agree a deal with them at any point.
There is no pressure to act quickly. You will be placed on ‘deemed rates’ which are higher than contracted rates but not excessively so, and many suppliers will back-date your contracted rates to cover the ‘deemed’ period if you agree a deal.
Always stay calm in the face of pressure. Do not fall for the tricks. Call someone like Business Juice and we will be able to help you identify your supplier and ensure you get into an advantageous contract as soon as possible. We can even negotiate to get your rates backdated to the day you moved in.
The Tag Team Scam
You will receive a call from a third party who will ask you if you've switched energy supply, to whom you have switched and what TPI you used.
A little while later another person will call you and claim to be from the TPI you informed the previous caller of, and will say that your transfer to the supplier is invalid and that you need to agree a new contract with a supplier of their recommendation.
This is the tag team scam. Never give out any details to a random caller, always ask for their website and say you will call them back if you like what you see. Check the website out, if it looks ok, and proves to be your real TPI then you’re safe in the knowledge it was a genuine call. If it isn't your chosen TPI, don't call back!
How we can help
Even if you are not a Business Juice customer we are always happy to help and advise businesses that are unsure of whether they are dealing with a genuine supplier or TPI. Just give us a call and we’ll put your mind at rest or confirm your suspicions.
If you have details of any other scams please do get in touch so we can warn other businesses not to fall into these traps.