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Bogus energy salespeople - common tricks

This advice applies to England

The vast majority of energy salespeople conduct themselves properly on the doorsteps, in public places and over the phone. However, consumers have been misled or intimidated into signing supply contracts, had their signatures forged onto energy contracts, or been sold bogus devices or meter top-ups.

If a salesperson asks you to sign something, take time to read through the document in full, not just the first or last page. If the document is long or you need more time to read it, ask the salesperson to wait or come back at a later time. Take a copy of anything you sign. If the sales person isn’t willing to give you a copy, don’t sign anything.

This page lists some of the common tricks used by bogus energy sales people. It will help you protect yourself from being misled into signing an energy supply contract that you don’t want, or from buying an illegal top-up or useless device.

If an energy salesperson claims to be from Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice does not supply gas or electricity and does not employ salespeople who would visit you uninvited. If someone calls on you claiming to be from Citizens Advice and wanting to talk to you about special deals, they are bogus. You should call the police.

Common tactics used to trick you into signing a contract

Bogus energy salespeople may try to trick you into signing a contract. We've listed some of the most common things a bogus caller might say to try to get you to sign something.

“I’m here to read the meter – please sign here.” There is no need to sign for a meter reading. It could be an attempt to get you to sign a contract, so check carefully.

“Sign here so we can send you further information about the prices we offer.” You don't need to sign for further information, so don't.

“I won’t get my commission unless you sign.” Salespeople are usually only paid commission if you agree to switch supplier. It is also an offence for a salesperson to say they will lose their job if you don’t sign.

“This deal is only available today. You’ll lose out if you don’t sign now.” Do not be pressurised into signing on the spot. Take time to properly consider any deal. If a salesperson falsely claims a deal is only available for a short time, they have committed an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations.

“I can’t leave your house until you sign.” The salesperson will not leave when asked, call the police. They have also committed an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations.

“I’m from Citizens Advice (or other organisation such as Transco, Ofgem, the government) and I want to tell you about special energy deals or discounts you are entitled to.” These organisations do not sell gas or electricity and do not employ salespeople who would visit you uninvited. You should report any incidents of someone claiming to represent one of these organisations to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

“I’m from your existing supplier and I’m here to give you a cheaper pre-payment meter key, token or card.” If your existing supplier wanted to issue you with a new key, token or card, they would inform you by post

“If you pay cash up front it will be cheaper.” Energy companies will never ask you to pay cash up front.

Tactics to get you to buy illegal or useless equipment

Whenever energy prices rise, many people try to save money on their gas and electricity bills. There are criminal gangs who have tried to take advantage of this by selling bogus reduced price top-ups for prepayment meters and useless energy-saving gadgets.

“You can get £50 credit for your prepayment meter for just £25 with this special top-up card.” Never buy prepayment credit on your doorstep. This is a scam.

“If you spend £99 on this gadget, you will use up to 40 per cent less electricity.” This is a scam. The gadgets don't work and are often unsafe.

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