Sent to the Flatbush Family Network (Yahoo Group):
Some guy just knocked on my door ... and claimed to be from ConEd doing a routine check and he needed to see my bill. I said send it in the mail/ make the request in writing and he scampered off. Smells like a scam and I thought I'd send out a heads up.It is a scam, and it has been widely reported in other Brooklyn neighborhoods.
The company behind this is IDT Energy. Just do a Google search on "IDT Energy Scam" and you'll get an idea of the scale of what they're up to.
They will claim to be from Con Ed or anything else that will get you to give them information. They will forge your signature. They are scum. They will lie, cheat, and ultimately steal from you.
What you can do:
1) NEVER give any information to someone showing up at your door. Not a bill, not an account number, nothing. They WILL switch your service without your knowledge or consent, a tactic called "slamming," specifically ESCOS - Energy Service Companies - slamming.
2) To prevent your service from being switched, contact your provider - ConEd, National Grid, etc - and have them put a "block" on your account.
3) If you're comfortable, challenge the person showing up at your door. Ask for identification, name, phone number, take a picture with your cell phone, and share the information. Note that some of these folks have been aggressive and hostile, so simply closing and locking the door in their face is always a valid option. If they are aggressive, abusive, hostile, or violent, call 911.
4) You can try filing complaints, but so far this has not stopped the practice, nor brought meaningful charges or fines against anyone involved.
More tips available on this flyer [PDF] from Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights.
Additional ReportsI won't be trying to record every one, but a couple more came in after I posted this, including some reports of aggressive behavior.
A 20ish girl showed up at my door [in a multi-unit residential building] I looked through the peephole and saw she was carrying a knapsack & a clipboard. I informed her through the door(without opening i) that I would be giving Con Edison a call right then to inquire if they had been sending people to my area that particular day; also asked her if she had an I,D. badge she could slip under my door to prove her identity. Without a word, she walked away, and then had the audacity to knock on my next door neighbors door ! Their 2 dogs began barking, I was still watching through the peephole, she hastened off, did not even wait for the elevator, just took the stairs. BTW, this happened a bit after 6 PM [2008.01.15] as well.
A guy came to my house yesterday [2008.01.14] and persistently kept ringing the bell after I told him I was not interested. He seemed to think I should let a stranger into my house and pull out my Con Ed and Gas bills and share this info with him. I asked him (without opening the door) to leave me a card and I would call Con Ed and ask about it, and he kept referring to the ID around his neck as though that should be enough. I sent him on his way, and tried calling Con Ed, but elected not to stay on the phone for the 15 minutes the recording told me I would be waiting. I had not seen any of these notices as yet, and so was unaware of any scam going on. He said that if I pulled out my bill I would see a notice about him coming by to check this. I don't ever recall Con Ed having any interest in my Gas bill, which was my first clue that something was awry. The sales guy was very pushy. Needless to say when I checked my last bill there was nothing about this on it. Strangely, he had my name on a piece of paper with a Con Ed letter head that looked like a bill, and to a less suspicious home owner would certainly look like he was endorsed by Con Ed.
LinksIDT Back In Brooklyn, Working Their Door To Door Scamming Magic, Consumerist, 2009-01-05
Update on IDT Energy Scam, Brownstoner, 2008-10-20
Energy/Utility Scam Artists Working All Over South Brooklyn (link defunct), Gowanus Lounge, 2008-10-20