Ms Hart said: “This can sometimes lead to a two-pronged scam, where the criminal later calls back pretending to be your bank.
“They use the details given by the text to convince the victim that they are being hacked by a third party and ask them to transfer their savings to a ‘secure account’. But in reality, you are sending thousands of pounds to the scammer.
Households do not need to apply for the energy rebate, as suppliers will automatically apply it to utility bills for six months from October.
Billpayers will never be asked for their bank details to qualify for the aid and ministers have warned they should ‘stay alert’ to scammers taking advantage of the scheme.
In one case, a 26-year-old mother of three fell victim to the scam after she was tricked into sharing her bank details into thinking she was entitled to the energy discount. But instead the crooks used his details to steal £400 from his bank account.
Amber Burridge of Cifas, Britain’s largest independent anti-fraud agency, has warned that reports of fake energy discounts have increased in recent months.
She said: ‘This is a prime example of criminals taking advantage of the cost of living crisis to exploit the public and catch victims while their guard is down.
“Criminals know finances are tight and rely on that to trick people into parting with their personal and financial information.”
The anti-fraud agency also expects scammers to target households with false messages about the £150 government payment available for disabled households from this week.
“People need to be extra vigilant. If you receive a suspicious text, stop and think twice before engaging or clicking on any links,” Ms Burridge added.
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