by: Better Business Bureau
Summer is approaching and rising temperatures mean high air conditioning bills. Scammers have come up with a new scam that claims to “save you money“. Scam artists, posing as local government officials and utility companies, offer bogus home energy audits and services. Here’s what you need to know to spot the scam.
How the scam works
You are contacted by phone or in person at your front door. The “representative” identifies as working for your utility company or the energy division of your local government. They may even show you an ID, but it’s not real.
The scammers inform you that you could save big on your energy bill. Some scammers will even insist on a visit to your home. These people may offer to install filters, thermostats or other energy equipment to reduce your bill, or they may simply say that you have the right to pay less. Either way, they’ll ask you to sign a contract and maybe even do a credit check. They will also ask you for billing information, including your debit or credit card number.
In the end, you will not benefit from any reduction on your energy bill or on any service. Equipment promised to you will not be delivered. That’s because this “home energy audit” is a scam. However, the fees mentioned in the contract may be charged to you and your personal information will be in the hands of a scammer.
How to avoid identity theft scams
- Don’t agree to anything right away. No matter how good the offer or how urgent the person is to make the offer, take the time to do your research. Tell the person you need time to think about their offer and hang up or close the door. Scammers may tell you that you are going to miss the deal, but taking immediate action is not worth being scammed.
- Go to the source. Contact your local government agency or utility company directly to confirm if they do offer energy audit services. It’s the fastest way to find out if you’re dealing with an impostor.
- Acquire help. If you’re not sure what’s on offer, talk to someone. Call a trusted friend or family member or contact your local BBB to find out if this is a scam.
To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find reputable companies, go to https://www.bbb.org.
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