Summer is coming, and rising temperatures mean high air conditioning bills. Scammers have devised a new con that claims to “save you money.” Con artists, posing as local government and utility company representatives, are offering phony home energy audits and services. Here’s what you need to know to spot the scam.
How the scam works
You are contacted over the phone or in person at your front door. The “representative” introduces themselves as working for your utility company or with the energy division of your local government. They may even show you identification, but it isn’t real.
Scammers inform you that you could be saving big on your energy bill. Some con artists will even insist on a tour of your home. These individuals may offer to install filters, thermostats, or other energy equipment to lower your bill, or they may say simply you are eligible to pay less. In either case, they’ll ask you to sign a contract and possibly even run a credit check. They will also ask for billing information, including your debit or credit card number.
In the end, you won’t receive any discount on your energy bill or any services. The equipment you were promised won’t be delivered. That’s because this “home energy audit” is a scam. You may, however, be charged the fees mentioned in the contract, and your personal information will be in the hands of a scammer.
How to avoid impersonation scams
Don’t agree to anything on the spot. No matter how good the deal seems or how urgent the individual makes their offer seem, take 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 you’ll miss out on the deal, but taking immediate action isn’t worth getting scammed.
Go to the source. Contact your local government agency or your utility company directly to confirm whether they really are offering energy audit services. This is the quickest way to find out if you are dealing with an impostor.
Get help. If you aren’t sure about what you’re being offered, talk to someone. Call a trusted friend or family member or contact your local BBB to find out if it you are dealing with a scam.
For more information
Learn more ways to protect yourself from scams by reading the BBB’s tip on avoiding impostor scams. You can find additional information at BBB.org/AvoidScams.