Energy customers warned about ‘dangerous’ new viral trend to avoid paying energy bills

Undated file photo of an energy bill claiming that the customer has defaulted on paying. Ofgem is expected to announce later Thursday that the energy price cap is to rise by 50% because of soaring wholesale gas prices, meaning the average bill could hit ¿1,915. Issue date: Thursday February 3, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story CONSUMER Energy . Photo credit should read: Martin Keene/PA Wire

ENERGY customers are being warned that they must not stop paying their bills this Autumn.

A post of social media is doing the rounds which tells households to cancel their energy direct debits.

Leading debt charities have denounced the campaign as dangerous

With energy bills predicted to hit £4,200 this winter – many households are getting angry about it.

The post on social media has been criticised for encouraging households to complain to the ombudsman as a way of protecting them against paying their energy bills.

But charities and experts slammed the social media trend as “dangerous” – and warned that that customers will still end up in debt and could be risking their credit scores.

The “Don’t Pay” campaign is already calling on households to stop paying bills by cancelling their direct debits.

The movement comes at a time when energy suppliers post record profits while the price of energy continues to sky-rocket.

The campaign likens its plans to the Poll Tax revolt in the late 1980s and 1990s.

According to the campaign website, over 95,000 people have pledged that they won’t pay their energy bills from October 1.

However, industry experts and debt charities are warning households that it would be extremely dangerous to do so, and could lead to a number of severe financial consequences.

Martin Lewis has previously issued a warning to households about the movement.

He said there will be “exponential problems” if people stop paying their bills and the government doesn’t get a handle on the situation.

The Energy Ombudsman which handles complaints on behalf of customers has also urged households to ignore the campaign.

A spokesperson the Energy Ombudsman said: “We would always urge consumers to pay their energy bills. If consumers are struggling to pay, they should speak to their supplier.

“Based on our experience of dealing with consumers and suppliers, we believe that suppliers will understand why some consumers will struggle during this current cost of living situation.”

Likewise, several charities have also warned customers about the dangers of not paying their energy bills and urged people get in touch with their energy firm if they need help.

Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: “We hear from people every single day facing desperate choices because they’re struggling to pay their energy bills. Many are simply running out of options. 

“But it’s important to know that there can be dangerous consequences if you build up arrears. Your energy supplier can move you onto a prepayment meter or, in rare cases, even disconnect you. 

“If you’re unable to keep up with payments, there are rules which mean your energy supplier has to help you. If you talk to them they might be able to offer emergency credit or a more affordable payment plan.

National Energy Action chief executive Adam Scorer said: “People want to take a stand on the price rises. But we know the impact on our clients of getting into serious, long-term debt.

“We wouldn’t advise clients struggling with bills to withhold payment in protest. We would certainly ask them to think hard about the consequences before they did.”

Tara Flynn, Money expert and co-founder of energy comparison site,, has warned households that if they refuse to pay their bills, it could leave a mark on their credit file for six years.

This would reduce your chances of being accepted for a future mortgage, loan or credit card.

Tara said: “If you don’t pay your bills for months on end and ignore all requests from your energy provider for payment, your provider could issue you with a CCJ (County Court Judgment), which will be kept on record and appear on your credit report.

“Unless you pay what you owe within 30 days of receiving a CCJ, it will stay on your credit report for six years, meaning it will be challenging to apply for credit during that time, making it much harder to get a mortgage, loan, credit card or even a mobile phone contract.”

What help is available?

Energy suppliers are also offering cash grants to those hardest hit by bill rises.

For instance British Gas is giving out up to £1,500 through its hardship fund.

But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.

Ask your supplier what’s on offer and how to apply, or check here:

  • Bulb energy fund
  • EDF’s energy customer support fund
  • E.on’s energy fund
  • Npower’s energy fund
  • Ovo’s debt and energy assistance
  • Scottish Power’s hardship fund

Cold weather payments up £25 a day are also on offer when temperatures plummet below zero for households on low incomes.

The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven day period of low temperatures between November 1 and March 31.

Anyone getting the state pension should also get winter fuel payments worth £100s. Winter fuel payments are a tax-free payment that comes from the government each year and is worth between £100 and £300.

In terms of council funds, the Household Support Fund helps families with the rising cost of living, has been extended.

For example, residents in Blackpool can get as much as £300, depending on their circumstances.

To find out what support is available in your area, contact your local council.