The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has recently reported on a rise in energy scams related to the cost-of-living crisis. Faisal Hussain, Chief Executive of HIES Consumer Code warns that consumers must be on their guard and discusses ways in which they can protect themselves.
The cost-of-living crisis has seen an up-surge in the number of consumers being targeted by scammers, according to a recent report by the CTSI. Consumers who are worried about energy costs and paying their bills this winter are more vulnerable to unscrupulous groups who are preying on people who need help. Consumers are aware that some grants and rebates are available and are falling victim to scammers who are capitalising on this. They are being approached by individuals who claim to be representatives of organisations who will help claim the money by asking homeowners to part with personal and banking information. In addition, not all suppliers of home improvement products can be trusted. In particular, the CTSI is concerned about an increase in scam energy rebate text messages, door-step selling and loan sharks preying on the most vulnerable.
CTSI-approved Customer Code
At HIES we offer consumer protection for anyone buying from one of our members. HIES is a CTSI-approved Consumer Code so we take the information in their report extremely seriously. Higher energy and cost of living bills are going to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Consumers are looking at installing home energy products not just for the benefit of the environment but to reduce long-term costs. We urge customers to only speak to trusted suppliers and companies in order to protect their savings and reduce unnecessary stress. Using HIES-accredited installers gives homeowners peace of mind before, during and after installation. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What we are currently hearing from the CTSI could potentially be just the start of an increase in scammers’ activity and we would urge any consumer making improvements to their homes to use our accredited installers. HIES offers assurances via our free deposit protection scheme, free stage payment protection, insurance-backed guarantees and dispute resolution service should there be an issue with a HIES member that cannot be resolved between parties.
Knowledge equals power
At a time when homeowners are looking at ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, it is more important than ever that consumers have confidence in what they are buying to ensure that they are making sound investments. Knowing you can trust your suppliers is vital. HIES has approved installers of boilers, heat pumps, solar panels, battery storage and more. Whatever a homeowner is planning in terms of improvements or upgrades, we strongly recommend them to find trusted suppliers via our organisation.
In addition to the benefits that HIES can offer, we would urge consumers to be wary of uninvited phone calls, text messages, emails and people trying to sell on the doorstep. We would always recommend homeowners only deal with their energy suppliers or home improvement suppliers via their official phone numbers and websites, but any suspicious emails or text messages can be reported to 7726 or firstname.lastname@example.org
At HIES we want to both protect and educate homeowners through the process of sourcing, buying and installing renewable and home energy products for the home. Now, more than ever, HIES has a vital part to play in combating scammers who prey on lack of knowledge and awareness.