How to Protect Yourself from Energy Scams

How to Protect Yourself from Energy Scams

Energy scams can happen door-to-door, over the phone, or via email and often involve a scammer posing as an employee from an energy company. These scammers use deception and scare tactics to gain access to your money or personal information. Here are some common energy scams to watch out for and ways you can protect yourself.

Common Energy Scams

Slamming

Slamming is when a third-party electric supplier uses your personal information to illegally enroll you in their service without your consent. These scammers attempt to get access to your account number to make the switch without your knowledge. To protect yourself against slamming, don’t share your PG&E account number or bill with anyone except a PG&E or MCE customer service representative. PG&E and MCE handle your account number securely, ensuring that the last four digits of your number are redacted to protect customer privacy.

Discounted Rate Scam

A telemarketer or door-to-door salesperson may offer you a discounted rate to switch to a third-party supplier. You’ll be asked to sign a long-term contract. After that, rates on the electric plan increase and you’ll be hit with high cancellation fees. Third-party gas providers are legal in California, but pay attention to the fine print of the contract terms and conditions. MCE doesn’t require a contract to participate in our service, so be wary if someone asks you to sign something for third-party electricity service.

Unpaid Bill Scam

An energy scammer informs you that your power will be shut off due to unpaid bills. These scammers request that you immediately settle your overdue bill to avoid a power shutoff. The scammer often requests that you pay your bill in cash or with a prepaid debit card. Don’t pay any energy bill that doesn’t come directly from PG&E. An easy way to verify if your account is overdue is by viewing your online PG&E account; you can also call PG&E directly. Tell the caller that you won’t pay, and then contact PG&E directly to confirm if any payment needs to be made.

Repair/Inspection Scam

A scammer may call you on the phone or come to your door and tell you that your appliances are due for repair or inspection. They may attempt to charge you a fee for unnecessary appliances or services. Don’t work with these individuals. Instead, look up their website or call the company to verify that their services are legitimate.

How to Identify a Scam

It’s important to be able to identify when your energy company is contacting you legitimately and when you may be the target of a scam. Here are some red flags that indicate you may be dealing with scammers:

  • They are unable to provide credentials that prove their relationship with MCE as an authorized trade ally or partner.
  • They request a payment without prior notice. MCE provides several notices by mail about overdue bills and never requests that you pay immediately in cash or by prepaid debit cards.
  • They ask you to write down or email your account number. MCE redacts the last four digits of your PG&E account number in our communications and won’t ask you to write down any sensitive personal information.
  • They tell you that you must switch services immediately to qualify for a discount. A legitimate energy representative gives you time to thoroughly review any information or offer before sending payments or signing a contract.

A representative from MCE may contact you for the following reasons:

  • You requested a change to your MCE service.
  • You contacted us with an initial request that required follow-up.
  • Some MCE authorized vendors and partners may use door-to-door outreach for MCE’s energy savings programs. All partners carry credentials including links to authorized program partner information on MCE’s website.

How to Protect Against a Scam

  • Don’t give out your banking information, social security number, energy bill, or account number unless you’re sure you’re speaking to a representative from your energy company.
  • If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be your electricity provider, hang up and call the number on your energy bill.
  • Check your account status by contacting MCE or PG&E directly.
  • Take time to thoroughly review any information or offer before sending payments or signing a contract.
  • Request identification and proof of employment from anyone claiming to be a representative of MCE or PG&E.
  • Stay up to date on reported scams in your area.

If you have concerns about someone coming to your home claiming to represent MCE, or if you believe you may have been the victim of an energy scam, please notify us at 1 (888) 632-3674 or info@mceCleanEnergy.org.

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