There are too many scamming activities known to man nowadays. It ranges from phishing through emails and collecting money from people regularly for “investments.” Unfortunately, many have had their pockets robbed through those common deceitful methods, but few can say they’ve encountered a utility scam.
Utility scams are committed by fraudsters who call or arrive unannounced at a customer’s residence to deceive them into giving them money or availing unnecessary and fake accessories. They exploit customers who want to save on their utility expenses by taking advantage of their situation. They use different methods that differ from false promises of lower bills to scaring customers with the possibility of having their service cut off.
Scammers who use utilities as bait come prepared to make themselves believable. To avoid falling prey to their schemes, you need to counter their elaborate lies by knowing what they are. So here are the common home utility scams to beware of.
Scammers use phone calls to hide their faces from people. With this type of scam, you’ll receive a call from a person claiming to be a representative of your utility company. Then, they’ll start telling you false claims about your bills to steal your money.
Scammers using phone calls tend to be aggressive with their approach. They’ll cause panic by insisting that you’re behind on your payments and threaten to cut off your service. They’ll also use vague details about your agreement with that provider as an attempt to make you believe their lies.
If you receive calls like this, don’t panic. You can find out if you’re talking to a scammer when they ask you to pay through unconventional means such as prepaid debit and credit cards, gift cards, and wire transfers. Once they ask you to do that, they’re likely to be just scamming you because those payment methods are nonreversible, meaning the possibility of getting your money back is highly unlikely.
Utility company scams
While most utility companies go by the book, there are also bad apples that operate through illegal means to steal people’s money. There are many ways these forms of fraudulent activities can take place. The most common one being criminals posing as utility company workers would get inside your home and steal stuff.
These scams can also be as elaborate as a legit utility company committing deceitful practices. An example of this would be the Ambit energy scam from three years ago. They deceived many people, including the ones they employed as “consultants,” to be part of a huge con that got a lot of customer’s money.
Door-to-door sales scams
In country’s where energy markets are deregulated, utility companies market their products door-to-door sometimes. Salespeople come to people’s houses and pitch their offers to the household. Unfortunately, some people do this to deceive customers into stealing their money.
These scammers will try to trick you into switching utility companies so they can steal your money. They use tactics such as slamming, which is switching you to a new provider without your consent. They’ll steal your account number so they can make the slam you by coming to your place posing as a representative from your utility company.
You can avoid slamming by not giving them your bill when they ask you to. If someone comes to your house asking for it, verify their identity first. Ask them questions or call your provider to be sure.
Replacement and repair scams
This kind of scam involves repairs and replacement of equipment in your property, such as your electric meter. Scammers will pose as repairmen from your utility company and attempt to charge an extra fee for new equipment. It usually starts with a phone call from them telling you that they need to make changes in equipment to “improve their quality of service.”
Fortunately, it’s an easy scam to spot. Know that your provider won’t replace their equipment unless you report damages. Also, you should verify with your provider if they’re indeed making changes via a phone call or their website.
Know that avoiding home utility scams is easier when you are informed. Practice verifying the identities of people who come to your place involving your utilities. Remember that your providers are your allies, and they can help with anything you want to know about their service.