Don’t Fall for the Lower Energy Bills Scam

  
     
July 18, 2017


LOS ANGELES & SAN JOSE—It's the middle of summer and with the record heat we’re running the AC day and night, which translates into higher electricity bills. Scammers use this opportunity to tempt consumers with the promise of lower energy payments.

How the Scam Works

You get a call from someone claiming to represent a local energy company or government agency. This "representative" says he or she wants to help you lower your energy bills. The "program" may involve registering for tax credits, enrolling in an alternative energy program or signing up with a competitive energy supplier. 

Do your homework before falling for a scam like this. In some cases, con artists want to enroll you in a non-existent program or sign up for tax credits, which requires you to share personal information such as your Social Security number. This opens you up to the risk of identify theft. In other versions, the "program" involves paying upfront for future energy savings that never materialize. 


Tips to Avoid an Energy Bill Scam

 

  • Verify the program before enrolling. Before you sign up, confirm that you’re dealing with a representative of a legitimate program. Call your utility at the number on their website or your electricity bill.

  • Know your energy options. California, for example, no longer permits alternative energy providers to sell electricity to residential customers, as the Direct Access program was suspended in 2001. However, Direct Access is available only for commercial and industrial customers of Pacific Gas & ElectricSan Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison.

  • Check out BBB Tips: Many scams use similar techniques, see bbb.org/utilityscam/  and bbb.org/grantscam/ for more advice.


More Information


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

To learn more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips. To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.