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State, municipalities say beware consumer scams

Updated: January 17, 2013 6:08AM

It’s not just carolers going door-to-door this season. There are plenty of salespeople and scammers out there, too.

Residents in Aurora have reported employees from electricity suppliers knocking on doors, offering rebates and rate reductions, and asking to see residents’ ComEd bills.

“We’ve been dealing with that on a sporadic basis in the last several months, and it was worse before electrical aggregation went into full swing,” said Aurora spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

Ferrelli said the city recommends that residents do not show anyone their utility bills.

“If they indeed want to or are considering changing into another program that any particular company may be peddling, read the fine print carefully and make sure the rate is lower than that offered by their current provider and the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office and the Illinois Commerce Commission warned residents last week that those offices have seen an increase in scams related to utility services.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the scam artists claim to be utility representatives and tell customers that their service will be disconnected unless payment is made directly to the scammers using a cash card.

Stories vary, with the scammer saying that the customer’s billing cycle has changed and payment must be made immediately, that the account is past due and payment can be made to them directly to avoid disconnection, or the customer’s previous payment was rejected or never received, according to the authorities.

“You don’t have to do business with anyone who shows up at your door or calls you asking for personal information,” said ICC Chairman Doug Scott. “Contact the utility and check it out for yourself.”

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