A WARNING has been issued over cost-of-living scams now that the Energy Bills Support Scheme has been launched.

The UK Government is providing all local households with a £400 discount on their energy bills, with the first instalment already being paid.

Individual energy suppliers will administer the discounts for customers and make payments over a six-month period to ensure they receive financial support through winter.

However, experts at Advice Direct Scotland have said they expect to see a surge in fraudulent attempts to manipulate struggling households.

There are already several scams circulating, many of which claim to be from energy regulator Ofgem or other organisations.

Advice Direct Scotland said it is important for consumers to know they don't need to apply for the discount and will not be asked for their bank details to process payments.

People are advised to avoid clicking on any links in emails or text messages, as these can take them to cloned websites that have the intention of stealing their personal or financial information.

These links can also sometimes install malware on devices when clicked.

Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “With the Energy Bills Support Scheme coming into force, it is vital that consumers are aware of scams and how to avoid them.

“Scammers have been using emails, text messages and social media to try to trick people into parting with their personal and financial information.

“We are expecting to see an increase in the number of people receiving such requests.

“It’s important to note that the discount is applied automatically. There is no need to contact the government, your energy supplier or anyone else.

“The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to scamwatch.scot when you see one.

“Anyone who is concerned or needs help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial and practical advice.

“We also have our energyadvice.scot service available to anyone who needs advice on billing and meters and other energy-related matters, including the Energy Bill Support Scheme.”

Every household with a domestic electricity connection is eligible for the £400 discount. Energy suppliers will contact customers about the specifics of how payments will be made.

Some prepayment customers may receive vouchers via text, email or in the post.