suspicious bill

How to spot an electricity bill scam

Fact Checked Fact Checked

Canstar Blue has put together a guide to help you identify an electricity bill scam before it’s too late.

Fake energy bills seem to be the scamming flavour of the month lately, with many energy companies warning customers of recent telephone and door-to-door scams around the country. Scams in the past have also been carried out via email, SMS and post.

While you may feel reasonably confident in your ability to spot and reject a scam, it’s generally a little harder to think calmly and critically when you’re on the phone with someone who is demanding your money and threatening to cut off your electricity. Even the best of us can fall victim to a scam, so we wanted to give you some tips for spotting a dodgy bill and avoiding falling victim to scammers. While this article is about energy bills in particular, much of the following advice is solid for avoiding other types of scams as well.

What is an electricity bill scam?

An electricity bill scam is where someone, claiming to be a representative of a reputable energy provider, insists that you have to make a payment for an outstanding electricity or gas bill. This can be in the form of a phone call, email or even door-to-door scammers. Sometimes, they claim that they are a third-party and offer to pay your electricity bill at a reduced rate.

However, no scam is going to be perfect and there are always things that, if you look closely enough, will give it away.

Things to watch out for

Scammers are getting more and more savvy, some even able to replicate the caller ID on your phone to make it look like the call is actually coming from your energy provider. Here are three warnings that the person that you’re speaking to is not from the real company:

  1. They are threatening to turn off your electricity immediately, or within the hour, if payment is not made
  2. The details of your agreement with the energy provider is vague and they can’t give you any specific information
  3. The requested payment method is unusual – for example through a money transfer or prepaid debit card

How to prevent getting scammed

It can be difficult to tell if something is a scam or not but there are a couple of ways that you can put yourself in the best position to be able to detect it.

Keep on top of your bills

The one thing scammers are looking to capitalise on is uncertainty. But, how do you eliminate any uncertainty you may have in regard to your energy bills? This is where staying on top of your bills can help. Pay any bills you receive as soon as you can and if you can’t do that at least know what the balance of the bill in question is. This can help safeguard you against scammers asking for amounts they’ve pulled out of thin air, because you’ll know better.

Don’t give them anything

In the early stages of a scam, whether it’s by text, email, or phone call, it can be hard to tell if the person on the other end of the line is legitimate or not. Until you’re 100% sure of the validity of their identity (or the lack thereof), don’t give them a shred of personal information. Whether it’s names, addresses, phone numbers, your account number with your energy provider, keep it all under lock.

While you may not end up falling victim to the scam, in some situations giving away certain pieces of personal information can be just as damaging.

Contact your provider

Say you received a dodgy-sounding text, email, or phone call that was supposedly from your energy company – you know what the best way of checking its validity is? Give your provider a call. They’ll be able to clear up any confusion about the communications and confirm whether it’s from them or not. It seems obvious, but a lot of people tend to overlook this one simple point when they’re not sure about whether they’ve received a fake bill. It’s also important to report these matters to your provider, so they can make other customers aware.

Common sense never hurt

Keep in mind that no scam is ever perfect. There’s always going to be some aspect to the scam that makes it seem questionable, if only slightly. Maybe you’re being asked to pay an energy bill that you know for sure has already been paid. Maybe the communication isn’t even from the energy company that you use.

People tend to panic in the face of a scam and that leads to common sense flying out the window, but if you can keep a level head and think about the situation critically and calmly you should have no problem spotting a scam and holding onto your hard-earned dollars.

Common myths about scams you should be aware of

  • Being on the do-not-call list will protect you from scams: Scammers are criminals. They’re under no obligation to abide by the do-not-call list, and will call any numbers they can get a hold of.
  • Scams are always about money: As mentioned before, personal details can be just as valuable as money to some buyers, and scammers are well aware of that. Be careful not to give away any personal details.
  • A legitimate-looking website means a legitimate business: Scammers can set up incredibly well-designed and elaborate websites in order to increase the chances of you thinking they’re running a real and legitimate business. However, don’t take anything for granted – a good website doesn’t mean you’re dealing with a real business. Running a quick Google search on the company in question will generally reveal a relatively non-existent web presence except for their ‘site’ which should be an immediate red flag.

Hopefully this advice will help you to spot an energy bill scam if one comes your way.

Compare cheap electricity plans

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

Share this article