Between inflation and soaring energy prices, many of us are thinking about how much more it’s going to cost to stay warm this year. Getting an email, a call, or a knock on your door with an offer to cut your utility bill may seem like hitting the savings lottery. But before you say “yes,” know that scammers may hide behind some of those offers. They’re after your money and information and will leave you out in the cold.
As you look for ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and cut costs, here’s how to spot and avoid weather-related fraud this winter:
- Be skeptical of products or services that promise drastic savings. Search online for the company or product name with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
- Resist high-pressure door-to-door sales calls for heating systems, windows, and other home improvement products. Pressure to act fast is a sign of a scam. Find a contractor who’s licensed and reputable, and remember that the Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel, if you sign the contract anywhere other than the contractor’s permanent place of business.
- Get any offers to reduce your utility bills in writing before you accept or sign a contract. Consider how long the offer or discount will be valid for. Ask about the length of the contract or commitment, and if it involves early termination fees.
- Spot utility scams. Recognize scammers impersonating your utility company and threatening to shut off your service. One way to tell: anyone who tells you to pay with a gift card, cryptocurrency, or by wiring money through companies like Western Union or MoneyGram is a scammer.
- Check to see if you can get help from the Low Income Home Assistance Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Learn more at ftc.gov/SavingEnergy.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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This is so true,i was scammed by a contractor who i called for an estimate,left a $500.00 deposit,He never showed up to do the job......Bottom Line......I find it easier to be scammed in person ,than thru the media.
Thanks for your good advice. Jon