HARRISBURG — In this time of heightened stress, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reminds consumers to remain vigilant when discussing energy supply service with telemarketers, particularly if the contact was unsolicited.
Additionally, consumers are encouraged to be on the lookout for unscrupulous activity and potential scam artists who may pose as utility representatives.
The PUC has established clear guidelines for energy telemarketing in Pennsylvania. When discussing electric and natural gas supply service with telemarketers, we ask consumers to keep in mind these three basic rules:
- Caller must tell you who they are;
- They must clearly explain why they are calling; and,
- They cannot claim to represent the PUC, another utility or other organization.
“Pennsylvania’s ‘rules of the road’ for energy marketing are there to ensure that consumers get clear, direct information about who is contacting them and what they are attempting to sell,” said PUC Vice Chairman David W. Sweet.
Sales agents must immediately identify themselves, identify the supplier they are representing and the reason for the call. If the agent fails to do this immediately, the consumer should end the call.
The reason for the telephone call should be specific. Any vague and potentially misleading statements – for example, “I am calling about an urgent matter concerning your generation service,” or “about your utility bill,” or “about your discount /refund /rebate /bonus/overcharges” should alert the consumer to end the call.
Additionally, sales agents may not suggest a relationship with a utility – such as your local electric or natural gas distribution company; a government agency – such as the PUC; or other supplier – including false claims that other suppliers are “going out of business” or experiencing other problems.
The Commission also reminded consumers that both the state and federal “Do Not Call” lists and regulations apply to all energy suppliers marketing services in Pennsylvania and are intended to safeguard consumers on those lists from unwanted calls. In addition to Do Not Call list protections, suppliers are also required to honor requests from individual consumers to not be contacted again.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s “Do Not Call” list and to enroll, see the Attorney General’s website at : https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/protect-yourself/do-not-call-list/ .
When facing an aggressive sales agent or suspecting a potential scam, consumers are encouraged to contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380. The PUC continually monitors suppliers and their sales and marketing activities through both the PUC’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight and its Bureau of Consumer Services.