Door to door alternate energy suppliers.

A man knocked on my Mother’s door yesterday and we didn’t answer right away, so he called her landline phone, and asked her to answer the door.

He said he worked for a company called Family Energy and he told her to grab her last power bill, so he could “be sure” she was receiving a discount she was entitled to.

This made some alarm bells go off for me, so I asked him for a business card, and told him she would call him if she wanted to talk to him.

Is this a scam? Was he really here to save her money?

I’m going with scam.
First time I encountered one of these jokers was about 10 years ago and he tried to pull the same move of asking for my latest bill. He was wearing a badge that looked like local Consumers Energy badges, but he became squirrely when I asked him about that. I called CE and they said they were not affiliated with this outfit and to be careful.

I’d encourage your mom to do the same. There are a lot of “energy saving” scams out there and they are all, every single one, bogus. I get them at my door about once a year and (politely) run them off toot sweet.

So, yeah. Scam, scammity, McScam, scam.

Here is a list of BBB complaints. Checking out the details shows that they are a bunch of aggressive sneaks.

Thanks guys. I figured that. Mom is 80 years old and too trusting. She would have let him right into the house. Scary.

Scam, they use aggressive sales tactics, lies and even sometimes forge signatures to get people signed up and up, up and away go your utility bills.

These A holes have been calling me relentlessly. I finally took their call and asked them if they knew the sun was burning out. Then I told them I was in no way spending money on something that would be of no use when the sun burned out. They haven’t called back.

I had one of these guys show up and ask for a bill. I said I received and paid my bills online. He said he’d wait while I went online and printed off a copy for him. Tempting as that was, I instead asked if he was insane and closed the door on him.

I had a very attractive young woman pull this one - when I said I had auto-pay on my account (she wanted only the gas bill - there’s a different utility for electricity here), she even offered to wait while I downloaded and printed a statement.
Bless her heart, that perma-smile didn’t fade even when I told her I’d check her outfit online.

(It’s been years since an attractive young woman smiled at any/everything I said)

Your alarm bells are correctly calibrated. Every detail you wrote in the above-quoted lines scream SCAM.

Is there a risk for greater harm, aside from being signed up for unwanted services?

I mean, is this an avenue for identity or credit card theft?

It’s good to see that people are leery enough of telemarketers these days that these guys feel they have to show up in person in order to make the sale. Unfortunately, since they seem to have been around for a while, they’re probably pretty good at it.

Oh, he was good at it. He kept telling my mother to “run real quick and get your bill, so I can take a look at it”. She thought he was from National Grid.

They ask for your bill because there is a POD# on it. They write down this number (or they’ll memorize it and write it down when you close the door). They submit it with their daily paperwork and they earn a commission on it as a “switch”.
No, you didn’t give your consent, but by showing them your bill and giving them access to that number it is considered consent.

If they switch your electricity over, it will take a full bill cycle (30 days) to switch back.
If they switch your gas over, it will take 2 full bill cycles (60 days) to switch it back.

Many utilities fund programs to subsidize low income or elderly or disabled customers, but these programs are for people who buy electric/gas from them. Its difficult to explain to a person living in a state with cold winters and on a fixed income
why they are suddenly paying full price for gas they heat with in January and wont be eligible for a subsidy until the March bill cycle, when they switch back and when their bill will be lower anyway.

People, you feel free to deal with these salespeople as you choose, but make no mistake: they are door to door salespeople. If they don’t have a license to sell door-to-door in your town, feel free to call the cops.

The two young ladies who stopped at my house claimed to be from the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) and the ploy was “You are entitled to a rebate - all we need to see is one of your bills”.

Uh-huh. So if you’re PUC don’t you have access to all that anyway? “Well, we have to verify our information”.

Me flipping open my cell phone and dialing 911 - “Lets just see if the police verify your information”. They literally ran but I got their plate number - and a couple gullible neighbors off the hook. A lot of older people live around me and the cops took it very seriously.