Online videos instructing viewers on how to illegally tamper with their energy meter should be removed by the social media that they’re hosted on, industry experts have said.
An investigation, carried out by Grosvenor Services Group, discovered that the searching ‘how to hack your energy meter’ on YouTube, returned 94,700 videos.
Many of these videos are receiving millions of views, with some of the comments promoting paid-for energy meter tampering services, taking advantage of vulnerable homes looking to reduce their energy bills.
All of the videos fail to mention the safety risks associated with ‘hacking’ an energy meter, an act that’s responsible for at least 1 death every 10 days across the UK.
A 2018 survey found that 39% of UK energy consumers are unaware of the risks of tampering with an energy meter, which includes burns, electric shocks, fires and even explosions. Not only putting the person committing the crime at risk but everyone else in the area too.
In addition to the health and safety risks, energy meter tampering, or ‘meter cheating’, also increases the energy bills for honest energy consumers.
Speaking about the videos, Managing Director of Grosvenor Services Group, Lloyd Birkhead said: “It’s shocking that such dangerous tutorials are allowed to exist on the world’s biggest social media platforms. They pose a real danger to society. Methods employed in these videos should never be carried out by a skilled technician – let alone an untrained member of the public.
“The promise that an individual can “cut [their] electricity bill in half” is hugely enticing, particularly for those on low incomes or those looking to carry out illegal activity. However, the reality is incredibly serious and video streaming sites have a responsibility to crack down on the practice.
“Current statistics show that 150,000 cases of energy theft are investigated annually in the UK, but only around 1,500 people are charged. We must therefore come together to prevent and prosecute. Closer links between the government, social media companies, energy suppliers and police could improve these figures. We need to show energy thieves how seriously their actions can impact innocent lives, as well as the tough sanctions they will face when prosecuted.”
Reporting Energy Theft
If you suspect someone of tampering with their energy meter to steal gas, electricity or both then you can report them anonymously to Stay Energy Safe:
- Call the report line on 0800 023 2777
- Fill in an online form at stayenergysafe.co.uk