Sponsored post in association with Stay Energy Safe
Do you understand the signs and the dangers of energy theft?
I didn’t. Not until this morning anyway.
Until then, if you’d asked me to explain energy theft I’d have probably thought about the Christmas film Deck The Halls, where Danny DeVito runs a cable over to his neighbour’s house in the dead of night to power his record breaking Christmas light display.
Spoiler – it’s not that.
Energy theft, or energy fraud, is when gas or electricity meters are tampered with so that they don’t record usage properly, meaning you can pay less or nothing at all for your energy supply. Unfortunately energy theft if definitely NOT a victimless crime.
Although it often goes unnoticed, energy theft is hugely dangerous and can result in gas leaks, fires, electrocution and sometimes death. Not only that, but the cost of the theft is passed on to other bill payers. It’s estimated that energy fraud costs the average household an extra £30+ on their energy bills every year, so it’s worth doing what you can to help catch the people doing it.
Energy fraud is a crime, with a possible prison sentence attached, and yet with rising fuel costs putting pressure on businesses and individuals it’s a crime that’s on the rise – there has been a 15% increase month on month recently, which means more lives at risk.
Am I at risk from energy theft?
You might be thinking ‘Okay, well that’s not something for me to worry about, because I’m not going to tamper with my meter’, but energy theft is a problem that can effect anybody. Do you have kids at university for instance? Student accommodation where bills are included in the rent is a big danger area, as ruthless landlords try to get out of paying for utilities while still charging their tenants.
Even within the regular rental market it’s important to check your meters, as you may have had previous tenants or landlords tampering with them, putting your live in danger without you knowing about it.
Businesses are another potential hot spot – do you have a boss who keeps the meter cupboards locked and won’t allow readings? Do you notice sparks or shocks in your local pub or takeaway? Or maybe you’ve spotted some odd looking wiring in your local community building?
What to do if you suspect energy theft
If you notice any of these signs of energy theft or anything else that makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, then you can report it to Stay Energy Safe, an anonymous reporting service powered by the charity Crimestoppers.
You can make your report by calling 0800 023 2777 or fill out a quick form online. Stay Energy Safe will then pass your report on to the relevant energy supplier, who will carry out investigations.
Help if you’re struggling with your bills
Although it might be tempting to try and cut costs, energy theft just isn’t worth the risk, either because you could end up in prison or, worst still, blowing up your entire family.
If you’re struggling with increases in fuel bills then there is help available. This brilliant resource from Ofgem takes you through step by step all the things you should do if you’re worried about paying your bills. You are definitely not in this alone.
Don’t be afraid to report energy theft. You can do it anonymously and you could be saving lives.