Several residents in Princeton have reported that a man has been knocking on doors claiming he is there to verify that PSE&G is not charging a fossil fuel pollution fee. People like the man in question may seem legitimate to you, but they are most likely part of a door-to-door energy scam.
Unless your utility company has notified you in advance, or you initiated a request for an audit or inspection, don’t let anyone claiming to work for a utility company or claiming to be an auditor in, and don’t give them any information or share any paperwork with them. Assume that unsolicited energy auditors are really salesmen or worse, that they are there for a quick burglary, especially if they arrive in pairs.
The person could be trying to collect your personal information to switch you to a private energy carrier, or to steal your identity, so never share any information, including a copy of an energy bill. Don’t be fooled if people claiming to be inspectors wear official looking badges or wear uniforms. Unless you have an appointment with an energy-related expert you called, keep your door locked. You can also directly call PSE&G to check to see if the company sent someone out to your home.
An unscrupulous door-to-door energy salesperson can employ a number of shady practices to trick you into switching over to another company. An account number is all a sales person needs in some cases to switch your supplier – the practice of obtaining your number and switching you is called slamming. Victims often don’t realize anything is different unless they look closely at their next bill.
If anyone comes to your door looking like, or claiming to be, a PSE&G employee, ask for identification and call PSE&G. All PSE&G employees must carry ID and present it when requested. If you are not convinced, do not let the person in your house. Call 1-800-436-PSEG (7734). A Customer Service Representative will verify whether a technician has been dispatched to your home or business. If the person at your door gives you a different phone number to verify his or her presence, do not call it.
Five tips to avoid energy scams
- Know who the salesperson represents. Don’t assume that wearing clothing or carrying a clipboard with a company logo you recognize means the salesperson actually works for that company. Ask to see identification, including proof of employment by an energy company.
- Protect your personal information. This means more than just guarding your Social Security number, bank account, and credit card numbers. Don’t show any door-to-door salesperson your energy bill, which includes your utility account number.
- If you are presented with an energy contract, know the details of the contract. What’s the rate? How long will it last? What happens when it ends? Are there fees, including cancellation fees?
- Be alert. Stay current on local happenings and whether scammers are operating in your area.
- Report scams. If you believe you’re a victim of a door-to-door energy scam, call your energy provider and the police.
PSE&G offers a variety of payment options and would never require a specific type of payment over the phone. Customers scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive written notices on their bill at least 15 days in advance. PSE&G will never ask for personal information over the phone unless you initiated the contact. If you ever doubt the legitimacy of a call from PSE&G, especially if a payment is demanded, hang up and call PSE&G directly.
PSE&G customers have reported receiving convincing-looking emails that are actually from scammers. Emails sent by PSE&G would never threaten to close your account if you do not take immediate action, and would never ask customers to provide personal information online without first logging into PSE&G’s “My Account.” If you receive a suspicious email, don’t reply, click on links, or download attachments. If you are unsure about whether the email is legitimate, call PSE&G immediately.