With the rising cost of energy, there seem to be plenty of con artists ready to take advantage of homeowners. If you’re concerned about getting taken by one of these low-life scammers, you should be diligent and learn how to avoid electrical scams.
Common Electrical Scams
Con artists target our weak points when they offer up scams. They usually take advantage of our fears. Many homeowners going through hard times may be afraid of losing their lifestyle. Others may be afraid of missing out on a good deal. It pays to keep a clear head and not let fear convince you to make a bad decision.
Electrical repair scams
If you have never hired an electrician before, you may not know where to turn if there is a problem. Many electrical scams you run into are shady electricians who do poor work for too much money. These fast-talkers may:
Have no license and no knowledge of electrical codes
Increase the estimate for reasons that don’t make sense
Use lots of technical terms without explaining the work thoroughly
Recommend services you don’t need
Require upfront payment before doing the work
The best way to avoid electrical scams when hiring a technician is to find one before there is an emergency. Get references and referrals from friends. This way, if you have to call an electrician in a dire situation, you’ll have a few names to call.
Solar power scams
Solar power is all the rage right now. Electricity is becoming more expensive than ever, and many homeowners would love to reduce both their bills and their impact on the environment.
Con artists know this, and they know how to elicit a sense of urgency in their targets. Many will reference the tax credits that will “soon expire.” They’ll tell you their great deal is only for a limited time. They may even ask for money upfront.
Solar power scams are scary. A few may include dodgy leases, false representation, high-pressure sales tactics, and fake tax credits.
Look for the following clues:
Power Purchase Agreements – that have you buying the electricity that your solar system generates from the provider.
Solar Leasing Plans — Where you lease the equipment and pay for its use. Remember, if you don’t own the equipment, you’re not eligible for any tax credits they provide. They also won’t add any value to your home.
Fake utility company programs — some scammers pretend to be working for your electric company and will try to sell you door to door, by phone, or by email.
Online ads — that promise free solar panels then capture your phone number so they can send an army of telemarketers to harass you.
Avoid solar power scams by doing your research. Ask your house-proud friends for referrals. Check BBB listings and online reviews. Get estimates from several companies before moving forward. Check with the Consumer Protection Office in your county.
Electric company scams
These scammers are probably the worst of the worst. During hard economic times, many families may have trouble keeping up with their utility bills. These criminals really target seniors and non-English speakers.
These scammers will phone you and even visit your home, pretending to be electric company employees. They’ll claim they are authorized to turn your electric service off unless you pay them immediately.
And too many Americans believe this scam. According to the FTC, American families lost up to $2.3 billion dollars to imposter scams in 2021.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi) has some tips to help you avoid this electrical scam:
Utility companies will not ask for cryptocurrency, gift cards, prepaid cards, or cash for payment.
Your electrical company will not call threatening to disconnect service unless you pay them over the phone.
Electric company employees will not show up at your home and demand payment.
Utility companies will provide plenty of advance warning if your service is at risk.
Scammers can fake their email address and website address to appear legitimate, so don’t ever click on a link to pay your electrical bill from an email.
If you suspect that a late notice call or email you received is legitimate, hang up the phone and delete the email. You can check your utility account online to verify it.
You can also initiate a call to your power company to check. Don’t use the call-back number on your phone, though. Use the phone number on the company site.
And, if you did forget to pay the bill, you can pay it safely on the valid company website.For professional work by reputable experts, make an appointment today with the team at Mr. Sparky in Pleasantville. Our trained technicians are licensed and will provide you with a complete and honest estimate for electrical projects in your home.