Teaming Up to Fight Scams – Powering Lives Network
 
Steve Bernas and Norma Chilaca, a business owner in Garfield Ridge

Steve Bernas speaks at a Better Business Bureau/ComEd press conference with Norma Chilaca, a business owner in Garfield Ridge who was the victim of a utility scam. (Photo courtesy of Randy Belice for ComEd)


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Teaming Up to Fight Scams

June 6, 2017

Guest Commentary:  Community Partner

This is the first of an ongoing series on ComEd’s collaborative efforts with community organizations, highlighting the work they do to make a difference in the communities we serve – and in which our employees work, live and play. The Powering Lives Network welcomes the submission of stories by community organizations about programs or efforts that help ComEd customers. To submit a story for consideration, please send it to stories@comed.com and we will respond to your email.

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU JOINS FORCES WITH COMED FOR CONSUMER AWARENESSsteve-bernas-ceo-of-bbb-052217

By Steve Bernas, president and CEO, Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois

As temperatures rise, certain scams begin to surge in unison. During the spring and summer months, “door-to-door” and utility scams heat up, plaguing consumers and business owners alike.

After long Midwest winters, it can be tempting to hastily agree to unsolicited offers for home services you may have shelved for warmer days. This careful timing, paired with high-pressure sales tactics or stern threats of service disconnection, can compel consumers to act on the spot.

Our recent Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker report recounts an instance similar to the typical utility scam narrative.

Here’s how it works: Someone claiming to work for a utility company will call your phone, or show up at your doorstep to inform you of an overdue payment or make allegations regarding urgent “energy audits” or “repairs.” The scam artist will then urge you to take immediate action in the form of a payment or disclosure of personal identifying information, such as a social security number. Oftentimes, these scammers are able to acquire the information they are seeking and retreat without a trace—compromising your safety, security, and finances.

Consumer safety is at the core of our mission. We remind people to never feel compelled to open the door to anyone you don’t know, and never allow any worker into your home or business unless you know or have contacted them first.

Between the Better Business Bureau mission, and ComEd’s commitment to keeping their customers informed, our two entities have joined together to equip consumers with the acuity necessary to spot utility-oriented scams.

For over 90 years, the Better Business Bureau has valued our great partnership and business alliance with ComEd, and we wanted to stand in unison to bring awareness to this stunning increase in utility scams they we are seeing impact our community and their customers, sometimes right at customers’ front doors.

We join with ComEd to advise consumers to take the following precautions to avoid falling victim to this type of scam:

  • Never provide social security or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than your local utility providers.
  •  When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to your door.
  •  For home repairs, always take the time to check the references and ratings of the company before doing business with them.
  •  If customers have concerns about the status of their ComEd account, they can also contact the company at 1-800-EDISON1.

Anyone who believes they have encountered any type of a scam is urged to report it to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, and call their local police station if a door-to-door scam attempt is made. Anyone who believes he or she has been a target of a phone scam should contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office toll free at 1-800-386-5438.

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