The recent CMA report brought despair to many of us since it seems to open up the way to mass energy scams. The whole basis of crime has been altering in the developing world over the last 10 years or so, really since the advent of the internet. There was a time when most crimes were physical. People would break into your house, mug you, murder you, hold up banks etc. This type of crime has been falling over the last 20 years in all developed countries whatever their criminal justice systems are like. The exception is gun crime in the US, but even there overall crime is down. No one is quite sure why this is happening and there are dozens of theories. (Mine for what its worth on why there are almost no bank jobs in the UK is that getaway is almost impossible due to the traffic in city centres.)
However a new type of crime and a completely different type of criminal is making an appearance. It started with the “419” scams from Nigeria. Moved on through the “I’ve been robbed on holiday please send me some money” scams. Now we are onto empty the bank account through getting hold of your mobile phone details (for online banking). There are also lots of telephone scams and many of these are energy scams. Such is the volume of this stuff its threatening to send the crime statistics into reverse. A couple of interesting questions are raised by all of this. The type of person that is doing these “white collar” crimes is very different to the type of person who broke into your house (who quite frankly didn’t have the intelligence to make as much money doing anything else). Before the internet were all the potential white collar criminals working in other jobs wishing they could find some fraud to get involved in? And are there a bunch of people now sitting around wishing they could steal cars? In other words in Christian terms are people inherently dishonest?
All this does not help us when we are deluged with scam emails (which we are) or scam phone calls. We get a lot of these phone calls and most of these are energy scams. The green deal was cut by this government last summer but you would believe how many calls we had on this subject claiming grants were available. We then moved onto a lot along these lines;
“every house in Scotland needs a boiler up to current regulations by the end of 2016″
Quite untrue for existing properties. More recently its a more generic one about the government (not sure which one) wanting all properties to meet energy standards by the end of 2016.
What can you do? Not a lot since a lot of the calls come from abroad. This is why the CMA report is so worrying since it will open the floodgates of energy scams again. If you sign up to the UK’s telephone preference service (easy to do online), then its illegal to contact you from within the UK. There is a text number 7766 I think to block texts as well. When I have challenged people who have rung me saying this the UK based ones put the phone straight away. The problem is for overseas calls, one of these swore at me and said he was in Spain. BT is joining other providers in attempting to stop this using lists of banned numbers. But the basic advice is don’t buy online. Keep your number to yourself. Block calls if you can and if an offer seems to good to be true it probably is. Lastly prepare for a deluge of ones offering you to switch to a cheaper energy supplier.