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Scammers have been posing as energy companies, either as the major energy provider, such as Eversource, or as smaller competitive energy suppliers. Scammers that pose as Eversource are usually threatening to turn off your utilities unless you make a payment that day. Scammers posing as competitive energy suppliers will often seek to obtain information about your bill or other personal information to commit identity theft. Also, there are legitimate competitive energy suppliers that can be pushy, whether soliciting door-to-door or over the phone.

Energy Scams – Pay Same Day or They Will Shut off Your Utilities

Some scammers pretend to represent a major energy provider and claim that they will cut your electrical power unless they receive a same-day payment. Eversource has warned about such scams on the Eversource website. There are strict regulations governing the shut off of utilities and the legal process includes several notices being sent to you, the customer, first. If you are hearing for the first time about a payment being due that day from you to the energy provider,  it is likely a scam.

This scam affects businesses as well as residential consumers.  Scammers will often target restaurants on a Friday when they are apt to be busy.  They will threaten to shut off the power all weekend if payment is not made that day.

How can you tell if it’s a scam?

Scammers employ many of the same tactics to trick you into giving them money.  They may threaten to turn off your utilities, assess a fine against you, or even put you in jail.  Lack of other notice and insistence on same-day payment is another telltale sign of deceptive and illegal practices.  Energy companies cannot shut off your utilities without providing you with reasonable notice.  Take note that the method of payment demanded is also important.  If the caller asks you to wire money or purchase a prepaid card and read the number over the phone, you can be reasonably certain that the caller is a fraudster.

What do you do if you are contacted by these scammers?

If they come to your door or call you, be skeptical—ask for credentials and verification about your account.  Also consider contacting the authorities listed below.

If you are a target of a scam:

  • Contact your local police
  • Report the scam to the Attorney General’s Office
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission
  • Contact your Energy company
  • Contact the Department of Public Utilities

Competitive Energy Suppliers

Competitive energy suppliers are licensed energy sellers who hold title to energy and sell directly to consumers.  To learn more about competitive energy sellers, read our blog or view the FAQ and information page on the Department of Public Utilities website.  See below for some important information about energy suppliers.

Competitive energy suppliers – look for licensed suppliers only

Some illegitimate energy suppliers are unlicensed and operating illegally.  They are seeking information about your energy bill or other personal information, either to commit identity theft or to get you to pay them for work they will not perform.  It is important to note that competitive energy suppliers must be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.  Check the Department of Public Utilities website for information about what energy suppliers are licensed.

Competitive energy suppliers – report bad practices

Some competitive energy suppliers are licensed but are still engaged in bad business practices. They may be trying to trick or manipulate you into signing up for an energy reselling provider by phone or in person.  In either case, they may ask to see your bill and it is important to understand that you do not need to give it to them.  Some competitive energy suppliers may offer an attractive discount that you could consider, but remember-protect yourself and do not fall prey to aggressive behavior and bad business practices.  If you have been a victim of bad business practices, file a complaint with the Department of Public Utilities.

Tips in dealing with competitive energy suppliers

  • Understand your current utility bill before making any changes.
  • Research competitive energy suppliers and do not succumb to high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Weigh the perks, such as low introductory rates, to the normal rate you will be charged by the competitive energy supplier.  Compare this to your current rate—sometimes perks are not worthwhile if you are still paying a much higher rate.
  • Use caution when dealing with door-to-door solicitors—you do not need to produce any paper bills or show them anything or let them into your home!
  • If you do not feel comfortable, hang up the phone or close the door.
  • Call your police department and report the solicitation and tactics.

Resources and More Information

To learn more about protecting against identity theft and privacy rights, visit our website.

For more information, contact the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Consumer Information Hotline at (617) 973-8787 or email us.

To file a complaint about competitive energy suppliers, contact the Department of Public Utilities.

To file a complaint with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General call (617) 727-8400 or file a complaint online.

To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online, use the FTC Complaint Assistant. The FTC also provides identity theft information for consumers at www.identitytheft.gov.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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