It's the middle of summer, and much of the US 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 Number (SSN). 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:
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 the Florida Public Service Commission at 800-342-3552.
Understand your energy options: Some municipalities in the US now allow "competitive energy suppliers," (List of US state laws) alternatives to traditional utility companies that may be able to offer a better rate on your energy bills. But like any opportunity, be sure you understand the terms of the new contract and how it differs from your existing one.
For More Information
The American Coalition 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).