That offer to help you save big on your energy bill this summer could be a scam. The Better Business Bureau has received reports of con artists offering phony home energy audits. Here's what to know about this scam.
How the phony energy audit scam works
Scammers are calling homeowners or appearing at their doors and claiming to represent utility companies or local government energy departments. They appear legitimate because some show identification (which isn't real) and ask to come in to conduct a home energy audit.
When these con artists call or visit, they might say that you're eligible for a rebate and ask you to pay for a grant or to provide your debit or credit card number to receive a refund. Or, they offer ways to cut energy costs—such as installing filters, thermostats or other equipment. According to the BBB, they will ask you to sign a contract and provide a debit or credit card number. However, you won't receive any equipment, and the scammers will have your card information.
How to avoid being scammed
The best way to avoid phony energy audit scams (or any scams) is not to answer the phone or open the door to strangers. However, if you find yourself talking to someone claiming to help you cut energy costs, the BBB recommends taking these steps:
- Don’t allow anyone in your home to conduct any sort of inspection unless you contacted your utility company to schedule an appointment or report a problem.
- Don’t agree to anything on the spot. Tell the person offering the home energy audit that you need time to think about it. If the person pressures or threatens you to make an immediate decision, this is a red flag that it's a scam. Legitimate utility company or government employees won't use high-pressure tactics.
- Contact your utility company or government agency to find out if it is offering energy audits. Look up the contact information online or in the phone book. Don't rely on the phone number or contact information that the person who reached out to you provided because it could be fake.
- Call a trusted friend or family member or your local BBB to discuss the offer you received. Talking to someone can help you evaluate whether it's a scam.
If you suspect that you have been targeted by a scammer, you can report it to local law enforcement and to the BBB Scam Tracker.
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