Tag Archives: Origin-Energy

#Email bills – Christmas for #scammers?

Here in Australia, Origin Energy [one of the big utilities companies] recently introduced gas and electricity accounts sent via email. Good idea? Not so, and here’s a picture of why:

email bills

The screenshot above is a picture of my new, email electricity bill. Notice all the red? Each one of those circles denotes a link to some address on the internet. Click on that link and you are automatically taken to that address.

So what’s wrong with that, you ask? We all use the internet a million times a day.

What’s wrong is that each link is a potential opening for scammers to steal your information, especially that big, orange ‘Pay now’ button. You see, these days, the really good scammers can reproduce the Origin Energy logo, its fonts, the colours, even the text…PERFECTLY. If you were to receive one of these reproductions, you would need to look very, very carefully to pick the fake from the original. And let’s face it, how many of us scrutinise each email we receive, especially when we are expecting to receive it?

Expectation lowers our defences.

I already expect to receive a mobile phone account [via email], and now I will also expect to receive gas and electricity bills, via email. I may scrutinise the first five, ten, 25 emails but after that? I’ll get complacent.

One day, I’ll be in a hurry and I’ll forget to check all the tell tale signs of a forgery. I’ll click on that big orange ‘Pay now‘ button in the email, and it’ll take me…somewhere. That somewhere will look like the  real deal as well so, still in a hurry, I’ll enter my banking details, pay the ‘bill’ and get on with my life. But one day in the not too distant future I’ll realise my bank account has been hacked. And in that moment of disbelief and horror, I’ll remember the day convenience, and a busy life style, made me follow a link in an email.

And what do you think the big corporations are going to do about the theft of all my money? Will they pull their hair out by the roots and cry ‘mea culpa, mea culpa’? Not on your life. They’ll say that the fault was all mine. They’ll say that they warn customers about ‘scammers’ so it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’.

But the truth is that the big corporations will NOT warn you about this particular type of scam because they do not want to put you off their new, much-cheaper-to-run email billing service. Origin intends to charge $2 for each paper bill from now on. I’m pretty sure the real cost of sending out a paper bill is nowhere near that much, so they won’t be saving $2 for every bill to every customer, but they will be saving something. Multiply ‘something’ by hundreds of thousands of customers and the bottom line starts to look a whole lot better.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is to print the bills off and pay them as you would a paper bill – by going directly to your internet banking and using BPay to pay the bills from there.

As a caveat, I have to say that I can’t guarantee that internet banking is 100% safe. I believe it is, but I can’t guarantee it. However…if the banks mess up with your money, they have to pay you back. If you mess up with your money, that’s it, it’s gone. You might try a class action suit against the corporation in question, perhaps citing negligence, but going through the courts could take years and may still not succeed.

Why not? Because no one held a gun to your head and made you click that ‘Pay now’ button.

This is the reason I keep bleating on about not clicking on links in emails. That little bit of extra convenience is just not worth it. And yes, it could happen to you.

Take care and stay safe,

Meeks

 

 

 


Origin Energy and the on-going Solar F.I.T. debacle

I’ve had solar hot water since July 2011, and solar panels since November of the same year, but the experience has not been all sweetness and sustainability.

My electricity retailer, Origin Energy, apparently had some difficulty adjusting their processes to the sudden influx of people with solar. I can only assume the wholesaler – SP Ausnet – had similar difficulties because neither company seems to have any knowledge of my solar panels. Which is rather odd when you consider that they have been paying me the top level Solar F.I.T. [Solar Feed In Tariff] since April 2012, off and on.

I would have thought that if Origin knew they had to pay me for my solar contribution they must know that I have solar panels in the first place. Logic, however, is sadly missing in this saga.

Back in 2013, Origin reduced the value of my solar contribution from 66 cents per unit of whatever to 28 cents – all without a word of explanation. It was left to me to query the bill and try to make sense of FIT vs CoGen. That was when I first heard that I was officially a non [solar] person because some documentation was missing.

What followed was months of frustration. I sent snail mail letters via registered mail, demanding answers. They responded, when they did, via phone calls …and nothing in writing.

And then, when I threatened to go to the Ombudsman, suddenly my solar F.I.T. was restored, again without a word of explanation. By this time I was so sick of the whole thing I just gave a silent cheer and let sleeping corporations lie.

origin filingNow, almost a year later, Origin and I are back to square 1. I have just received a letter saying they have been overpaying me and would I please sign the attached forms so they can pay me the measly 28 cent payment.

Well, guess what? Having just spent the entire day sorting through old files [that’s them carpeting my kitchen floor], I’m going to bundle up everything relating to this mess and send it to my solicitor. Win, lose or draw, this time I want answers.

Not happy Origin!

Meeks

 


%d bloggers like this: