Scam Alert: Don’t Fall for Lower Energy Bills Con

It’s the middle of summer, and much of the US and Canada is running their air conditioners to beat the heat. But these cooler homes translate into higher electricity bills. Scammers use this opportunity to tempt consumers with the promise of lower energy payments. Don’t fall for this con.

How the Scam Works:

You get a call from someone claiming to represent a local energy company or government agency. This “representative” says that they are part of a program to help homeowners lower their energy bills. The details vary; this “program” may involve registering for tax credits, enrolling in an alternative energy program, or signing up with a competitive energy supplier.

Be sure to do your homework before accidentally falling for a scam! In some cases, con artists want to enroll you in a non-existent program or sign up for tax credits, which requires you sharing personal information, such as your Social Security or Social Insurance number. This opens you up to the risk of identity theft. In other versions, the “program” involves paying upfront for future energy savings that never materialize.

Tips to avoid an energy bill scam:

Here are some tips for spotting scams that claim to help you lower your energy bills:

  • Verify the program before enrolling.Before you sign up, confirm that you are dealing with a representative of a real program. Call your energy company or government agency using the number on their website or your energy bill.
  • Understand your energy options.Some municipalities in the US and Canada now allow “competitive energy suppliers,” alternatives to traditional utility companies that may be able to offer a better rate on your energy bills. Both electricity choice and natural gas choice are available for residential and small commercial consumers in PG&E’s utility territory. But like any opportunity, be sure you understand the terms of the new contract and how it differs from your existing one. Check out the company on org to see its rating, complaint history and reviews from past customers before making any decisions.
  • Check out BBB tips. Many scams use similar techniques, see org/utilityscam/and bbb.org/grantscam/ for more advice.

For More Information:

 

The American Collation of Competitive Energy Suppliers provides resources for consumers to evaluate competing energy company offers.

To learn more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips (bbb.org/scamtips). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

 

Rebecca is the PR Specialist for BBB serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Coastal California. She works to advance BBB’s vision of an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other. She does this by developing content such as blog posts, press releases, newspaper columns, and PSAs to educate businesses and consumers.

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Posted in Business Tips, Consumer Tips, Consumer/Business Services, Scams

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