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  • How Energy Scams Are Working Around Provincial Legislation

scams-energy-legislationIt goes without saying that even the best laid laws are not immune to scams that work around and twist the legality of any business operation. No matter how much provincial law tries to protect us against scam artists, it falls to individuals to protect themselves. There’s new ways that fake energy marketers are getting around laws and regulation and continuing to sign up into shoddy deals at the door, and some new developments that you need to be closely aware of.

Scammers Are Using Fake Ids

Previously, Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch looked at the regulations surrounding carrying a government-approved photo ID that identifies the business a door to door energy marketer represents, as well as their authorization to market energy contracts. This photo ID is absolutely necessary for a salesman to have, and it’s just as necessary that you check for it every time someone comes to your door.

But the ease and prevalence of fake identification is spurring a lot of scams beyond that initial skepticism by presenting the illusion that this person is authorized. The truth is that a fake ID is about as effective as how long you actually look at it. Energy marketing scammers often flash their fake ID without prompting, giving you so little time to look at it that it would seem to pass. If this happens to you, ask to see the ID again more closely. If they refuse or pull the same trick again, you know what to do.

Impersonating your Current Supplier

This is a less known trick, but also the most effective as most homeowners don’t even realize they’ve been scammed. This scam entails representing your existing supplier, using information which is generally proprietary and difficult to come by, then signing you into a new and different contract – often at far worse rates. This trick has been particularly damaging to Direct Energy, which is the largest energy marketers in Ontario and thus the most likely one that homeowners deal with.

This scam works because people within an energy company will sell client lists or consumer information, illegally, to third party entities. This is usually done by individuals, as a company practice of this can be a huge loss to revenue and public trust. These types lure you in by making you feel like you’re picking up a conversation with someone you’ve already done business with. In doing so, they can trick you into signing into a new contract.

In the event you are caught by this, getting a worse contract isn’t the only risk. You may also incur fees from your existing supplier from exiting your contract early: as much as $500. And with signing anything untrusted, you’re passing on your personal information to someone who’s made a career out of swindling people out of their money.

Always Ask Questions

Not to go as far as to interrogate a door to door salesman, but you should go above any beyond the usual steps of building trust with someone you’re doing business with when you deal with people at your door. Asking questions, double checking authenticity, and reading over any literature they have with them (and you should hope they have some on them) are all important steps in scrutinizing a salesperson and determining who is a scammer and who isn’t.

Being scrutinized is part of a door to door salesperson’s job, and the good ones take their credentials very seriously. The less willing a person is to divulge information about who they are and who they work for, the less likely they’ve come to your door with the best interests.

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