Australian leaders have set a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Getting to that point will require everyone to make changes, including being open to upgrading parts of their homes for better energy efficiency. Could that create opportunities for scammers?

United Kingdom Charity Warns of Scams

The United Kingdom has also set a 2050 goal for achieving net-zero emissions. Unfortunately,  Citizens Advice — a consumer and household assistance charity there — has recently warned the public about a rise in net-zero scammers.

The charity’s website indicates that 29 million homes need upgrades to meet net-zero goals. That’s a figure specific to the United Kingdom, but the surrounding content will resonate with people elsewhere. Citizens Advice representatives mention that many households are open to making energy-efficient upgrades to align with net-zero strategies.

However, many people don’t know what to change or how to make those upgrades. Such circumstances create opportunities for scammers to exploit a lack of knowledge.

This is not an unfamiliar topic for those working at Citizens Advice. In 2021, the charity published a press release warning that people targeted more than 19 million adults with green scams within the past year. An estimated 5.2 million people fell for them, representing a significant problem.

Clarification Can Empower People

Australia has had numerous energy and home-related scams, too. An excellent way to address these in any country is to quickly clarify them. For example, the Clean Energy Council is an Australian organization that educates people about green energy options. Some scammers have impersonated it and tried to get consumers to purchase solar panels from them. However, the Clean Energy Council does not sell solar panels, and it confirms that fact on its website.

In another case, provider EnergyAustralia acknowledged on its website that a cyberattack compromised 323 customer accounts and created circumstances that could lead to scams. The provider warned that people might receive fake energy bills and told them how to spot legitimate company communications. If someone gets a scam bill much higher than their average utility expenses, it’s easy to imagine how they might be willing to make net-zero upgrades, especially if engaged with at the right moment.

Other scammers impersonate professionals from legitimate companies and try to get people to buy green energy products or have them installed. Energy companies that rely on cold sales techniques should clarify that on their websites and give as much information as possible. For example, do the salespeople only work during specific hours? Can they show identification to confirm their employer?

Urge People to Think Before Acting

Efforts associated with a more sustainable future can often cause people to become emotional and make snap judgments. Many business leaders want to create value and see stakeholder returns five to 50 years from now, and they’ll hire consultants to help them do that. No person of influence wants others to perceive them as making unsustainable choices. However, that could cause a business leader to approve things that might open the door for scams.

From a consumer side, it’s always best to consider whether a proposed offer is too good to be true. One popular door-to-door scam in Australia involves telling people they can get deeply discounted or free solar panels installed by signing a contract and paying a deposit. However, once someone pays, the purported installer usually disappears.

These scams typically feature high-pressure tactics, such as saying the offer won’t last long, so they must decide immediately. The door-to-door representative also generally does not provide specific details, such as the brand of the solar equipment.

The best preventive measure against these scams is to insist on taking time to weigh decisions. People should take the contact details of the individuals who show up at their doors and investigate further before committing to anything.

Another thing for consumers to remember is there’s no single way to be sustainable. Although certain technologies are mentioned more than others in net-zero headlines, sustainability comes in many forms. Using eco-friendly building products during a home construction project can substantially cut emissions, and it’s also wise to prioritize durable designs that will last for decades.


Information Is the Best Defense

Most people fall for scams because they don’t know any better. Giving them opportunities to learn whether something is a net-zero scam is an excellent way to make would-be criminals less successful.


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