The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) advises consumers to be on the lookout for potential energy marketing scams, especially those that use unsolicited telemarketing phone calls.
The calls demand immediate action and promise huge savings on energy bills, but the Commission says the calls are vague and spread misleading information about customer rebates, refunds, rebates and bonuses if customers act now.
PUC indicates that agents must identify themselves immediately when contacting a potential customer; identify the supplier they represent; and the reason for the call.
If an agent does not identify themselves and specify the reason for the call, customers should end the call.
An example of a scam phone call and more details regarding the PUC ad can be found below:
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged Pennsylvania consumers to be alert to potential energy marketing scams, especially unsolicited telemarketing calls asking for immediate action and promising savings substantial on energy bills.
Questionable robocalls and other possible scams
One type of deceptive solicitation involves robocalls from unidentified sources making vague and potentially misleading claims about customer discounts, refunds, rebates, and bonuses if the customer acts now.
Calls often show up as a local phone number on the recipients’ caller ID, which is often fake or “spoofed”, or calls show no number. These dodgy calls seem to follow the same basic script:
“This is an apology call from your electric (or natural gas) utility. You have been overcharged by your third-party provider. You will receive a rebate check along with a 30% discount on your utility bill. electricity and gas Please press 1 to get your reimbursement cheque.
Identification of legitimate energy sales calls
When discussing power supply service with telemarketers, the PUC emphasizes that telemarketers must do the following:
• Identification – Callers must tell you who they are at the start of the call;
• Information – Sales agents must clearly explain why they are calling; and,
• Membership – Telemarketers and sales agents can NOT claim to represent the PUC, another public service or another organization.
In a recent notice to energy suppliers, distributors and other related entities, the PUC stressed that energy telemarketers must clearly identify themselves and state the reason for their calls and highlighted the Commission’s zero tolerance policy. for unauthorized change of customers.
“The PUC emphasizes that telemarketers must identify themselves immediately when contacting a potential customer; identify the supplier they represent; and the reason for the phone call.
If the agent does not identify themselves immediately and provide the reason for the call, the consumer should end the call. Again, vague and potentially misleading statements – for example, “I’m calling with an urgent question about your production service”, or “about your electricity bill”, or “about your rebate/refund /discounts/bonuses/surcharges” – should also warn consumers to end calls.
Additionally, sales agents may not suggest that they work for or partner with a utility – such as your local electric or natural gas company; a government agency – such as the PUC; or another supplier – including false claims that other suppliers are “going bankrupt” or having other problems.
Consumers with questions or concerns about their energy supplier or their contract can contact their supplier (supplier’s contact details appear on monthly electricity bills). Additionally, consumers can contact the PUC Consumer Services Office at 1-800-692-7380 to report suspected scams.
Buy energy and evaluate offers
Consumers and small businesses can use PUCs PAPowerSwitch energy buying website to explore and compare offers from competing energy providers that may provide savings over their utility’s default service rate – or offer other potential benefits, such as renewable energy.
PAPowerSwitch offers consumers and small businesses valuable information on how to purchase electricity supply services – allowing consumers to quickly compare offers from competing suppliers, learn more about switching to a competing supplier, as well as tips for energy conservation and efficiency.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances consumer and utility needs; provides a safe and reliable public service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed public service choices; promotes economic development; and encourages new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
Visit the PUC website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent press releases and video of some proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other useful consumer information.