PUC Urges Consumers to Be Alert for Energy Marketing Scams
Published on 7/18/2022
Filed under: Consumer Education Electric Gas
Watch for Deceptive or High-Pressure Energy Marketing Efforts and Misleading Claims About Savings
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged Pennsylvania consumers to be alert for potential energy marketing scams, especially unsolicited telemarketing calls requesting immediate action and promising far-reaching savings on energy bills.
Questionable Robocalls and Other Possible Scams
One type of misleading solicitation involves robocalls from unidentified sources making vague and potentially misleading statements about customer discounts, refunds, rebates and bonuses if the customer acts now.
The calls often appear as a local telephone number on recipients’ caller ID, which is often fake or “spoofed,” or the calls fail to display any number at all. These questionable calls appear to follow the same basic script:
“This is an apology call from your electric (or natural gas) utility. You got overcharged by your third-party supplier. You will be receiving a rebate check along with a 30% discount on your electric and gas bill. Please press 1 to get your rebate check.”
Identifying Legitimate Energy Sales Calls
When discussing energy supply service with telemarketers, the PUC stresses that telemarketing agents must do the following:
- Identification – Callers must tell you who they are at the beginning of the call;
- Information – Sales agents must clearly explain why they are calling; and,
- Affiliation – Telemarketers and sales agent may NOT claim to represent the PUC, another utility or other organization.
In a recent notice to energy suppliers, marketers and other related entities, the PUC emphasized that energy telemarketers must clearly identify themselves and the reason for their calls and underscored the Commission’s zero tolerance policy for the unauthorized switching of customers.
“The PUC stresses that telemarketing agents are to immediately identify themselves upon contacting a potential customer; identify the supplier they are representing; and the reason for the telephone call.”
If the agent fails to immediately identify themselves and the reason for the call, the consumer should end the call. Again, vague and potentially misleading statements – for example, “I am calling about an urgent matter concerning your generation service,” or “about your utility bill,” or “about your discount /refund /rebate /bonus/overcharges” – should also alert consumers to end calls.
Additionally, sales agents may not suggest that they are working for or in partnership with a utility – such as your local electric or natural gas distribution company; a government agency – such as the PUC; or other supplier – including false claims that other suppliers are “going out of business” or experiencing other problems.
Consumers with questions or concerns about their energy supplier or contract can contact their supplier (supplier contact information is included on monthly electric bills). Also, consumers can contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380 to report suspected scams.
Shopping for Energy and Evaluating Offers
Consumers and small businesses can use the PUC’s PAPowerSwitch energy shopping website to explore and compare offers from competitive energy suppliers which may provide savings compared to their utility’s default service rate – or offer other potential benefits, such as renewable energy.
PAPowerSwitch provides consumers and small businesses with valuable information on how to shop for electric supply services – enabling consumers to quickly compare offers from competitive suppliers, learn more about switching to a competitive supplier, along with tips for energy conservation and efficiency.
About the PUC
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
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