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Avoid scammers who are posing as retail electric companies

Posted by Nick Petersen on 11/01/2013 at 12:25 PM

Scammers frequently move from one scheme to another in order to rob victims of their hard earned money and/or reputation.  In 2013 these individuals have turned their attention to an industry that hits too close to home for those of us at myTrueCost.com - electric companies (known formally as "Retail Electric Providers" or REPs).

Scammers are now targeting Texas residents who have electric choice.  At first, they were contacting victims and posing as the electric utility -- companies like CenterPoint Energy -- and threatening to disconnect their service unless the customer paid a reinstatment fee.  The new scan has them posing as electric providers who offer suspicously inexpensive rates in exchange for getting the victims' personal information that can be used later for identity theft.

How does it work?
Scammers contact victims and pose as an electric company with plans that have very inexpensive rates.  Using a number of different diversions and tactics, they secure the victim's trust and enroll him/her in a fictitious plan. During the enrollment process, they obtain personal information for later use.

After a victim has signed up, the scammers then purchase real plans for electric service at different addresses but with the victim's personal information.  The scammers get free electricity until they move on and the victim could be stuck footing the electric bill.

How do you avoid falling victim to this scam?
  • Protect your personal and financial data at all times and do not give it out to anyone that you have not personally contacted.
  • CenterPoint Energy phone agents will NEVER personally request banking or credit card nformation over the phone, but will instead transfer you to an Interactive Voice Response system to safely collect payment information for natural gas bills. Remember, CenterPoint does not sell electric plans.
  • Company field employees carry identification which clearly shows a photo and name, and will never ask for Social Security numbers or bank data during a field visit.

When you're shopping for a new electric plan, you could always go through the trouble of vetting many electric companies prior to purchase. But it's a time-consuming and frustrating process. The better way to shop is by using TrueCost.  It's safe and easy, and the companies on TrueCost are reviewed by their actual customers. On TrueCost, you know you're dealing with legitimate companies.

  • Create your TrueCost profile and select the right plan for the way you use electricity.
  • Complete the purchase process by verifying your information through our site directly with the electric company you choose.
  • Rest assured that TrueCost NEVER shares or sells your personal information.

Don't fall victim to an electric plan scam with a rate that sounds too good to be true.  Shop, compare and switch the safe way with TrueCost.

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