The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning consumers to watch out for a new phishing email asking you to pay bogus gas or electricity bills.
Deputy Chair of ACCC, Delia Rickard said these emails purport to be from legitimate energy companies and may claim you have an amount owing for exceeding your energy consumption limit and that you are eligible to use a discounted energy tariff if you pay the bill now.
Ms Rickard said the email directed people to click on a link or attachment to view your statement and arrange payment.
She said if you click, your computer may become infected with malicious software that allows scammers to remote access your computer and watch you entering personal information such as online banking details.
Ms Rickard said the link would take people to a webpage with all of the hallmarks of an online payment service, including account summary, account number, billing period, due date and instructions for payment.
She said wire money transfers were a favourite among scammers because they were difficult to trace and the funds were almost impossible to recover.
Ms Rickard said once scammers had personal information, they could steal money or identity.
"Scammers will try every trick in the book to get a hold of your money," she said.
"The ACCC has received over 300 contacts about this scam this year but what is reported is often just the tip of the iceberg."
Ms Rickard said that if you receive an email out of the blue from an energy company requesting money - delete it; if you receive an email from your energy company and you are not sure if it is a scam, verify the content by contacting them directly before you open the email; and don't click 'reply', rather find details through an independent source such as a web search - do not use contact details provided in the email.
Public Service news and events from around the world
In depth discussions on current topical issues
Expert advice in areas such as training, development, grooming and health.
Photos and faces from PS gatherings
A weekly round-up of features of interest to the Public Service
Reviews of some of the latest, most relevant books of interest to PS News readers
The latest and best in special interest and collectable DVDs and Blu-Ray movies
With travel, wine and dine, motoring and movies