Scammers using ‘Home Energy Audit’ to access personal information
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Scammers have devised a new scheme that claims to “save you money.”
According to the Better Business Bureau, con artists posing as local government and utility company representatives, are offering phone home energy audits and services. Most of the interactions come over the phone, but in some cases, this person may even show up on your doorstep.
Jessie Schmidt, who is the South Dakota Regional Vice President for the Better Business Bureau, says these individuals may offer energy equipment to lower your bill, or simply say you are eligible to pay less. But, the most telling red flag is that you’re being offered this service in the first place.
“Utility companies oftentimes do offer this kind of thing, but, most times, they don’t contact you,” Schmidt said.
Chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chris Nelson agrees.
“It’s typically something where the homeowner is going to seek out that particular service,” Nelson said.
Nelson added that it’s even less likely this service would be presented unannounced.
“As far as an energy audit, none of our companies are going to go door-to-door offering that,” Nelson said.
One of the area’s largest providers, Northwestern Energy, doesn’t even provide energy audits in South Dakota.
“A home energy audit, you’re letting someone into your home, so that’s a whole nother level of having to trust somebody, so if you don’t know them if you haven’t physically called them yourself to start the conversation, it probably isn’t a good thing to let happen,” said Northwestern Energy Spokesperson, Tom Glanzer.
While scams surrounding utilities aren’t uncommon, there are always new tricks.
“I’d say once a week, if not more, in our service territory between South Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska, we see some sort of either phone scam, email scam, internet, they use social media, and they’re always trying to get the customer’s information,” Glanzer said.
If you feel pressured to commit, take a step back.
“Don’t ever agree to anything on the spot,” Schmidt says.
In the end, you won’t receive any discount or see any savings. However, you may be charged and your personal information will be in the hands of a scammer.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to go directly to the source.
“Contact your utility company, they may have someone they are working with that will offer the service or be able to recommend some reputable folks that do that,” Nelson said.
Schmidt says this scam hasn’t become widespread in the Dakota News Now viewing area yet, but that it is something to be aware of. And, If you think you’ve been targeted by this type of scam, you’re encouraged to report it to the BBB.
To read the BBB’s full article, visit BBB.Org.
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