Don't be a victim
The energy industry is undergoing rapid change, and technology is paving the way for innovation in the way energy is used, produced, stored and shared. Members are interested in green energy alternatives while smart homes and apps make managing energy use and paying your electric bill more convenient than ever.
While the changing energy market has created more options for consumers, it has also resulted in more utility scams and misleading information surrounding solar installations in particular.
Utility scams are common because consumers are understandably anxious with the threat of disruption to their electric service. Second, new products and services in the energy industry provide an opening for scammers and pop-up companies to provide misleading information or shoddy products and services.
Avoid Phone Scams
A common phone scam typically begins with a phone number that appears to be from a valid utility company. The scammer will claim you have a past due account and threaten to disconnect service or take legal action. The scammer will typically demand that you use a prepaid debit card or money order, often within a very short, urgent time frame to pay the “past due” amount.
You can combat this scam by being aware of the status of your account. Never give your banking or personal information over the phone to someone you did not call. If you have a question or concern about your energy bill, call us directly at 800-240-3400. Do not use the phone number given by the scammer.
Avoid Solar Scams
Another scam we see more and more frequently is connected to rooftop solar. High pressure salesmen go door-to-door making promises of eliminating all utility bills with the installation of solar panels. They have a contract ready in hand and press for a commitment with signature on the spot. While they may deliver a product, their claims are false and they rarely are around to answer questions about the installation and “guarantees” that are not true.
Use Trusted Sources
If you’re considering solar for your home, make sure you are working with a reputable company. Because this is still an emerging industry with evolving technology, there has been a proliferation of pop-up companies in the market to make a quick buck. Representatives of rooftop solar companies may have more sales experience than knowledge of the energy industry, and their primary goal could be making a sale and moving on to the next prospect.
The Energy Services Department at Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative can offer a candid assessment to determine whether rooftop solar is right for you. If this technology can achieve energy and cost savings, there are reputable installers available to do the job and do it right.
In this ever-changing environment, it’s important to remember you have a trusted energy advisor – Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. We are a community-focused organization that works to efficiently deliver affordable, reliable and safe energy to our members.
Remember, we’re just one call or click away, so please reach out with any questions about your electric service or bills – we’re here to help.