New scam involving home energy audits

Vince Vitrano, Stephanie Graham

New scam involving home energy audits

By Vince Vitrano, Stephanie Graham. CREATED Oct 18, 2012

Debbie Katt is like many homeowners interested in cutting back on electric bills and making her home more energy efficient, so when someone appeared at her door offering a free home energy audit, she agreed. "The presented himself as if he were an official of some sort. He was with the state, he was with the city, he was with the local energy company."

But after a quick check of the attic, windows and doors, the so-called auditor turned on the hard sell and told the Katt's they needed to buy a $4,000 solar blanket for the attic.

That's when they realized the auditor was really a salesperson.

"I was mad the he misguided us and I was mad he took all our time like that," Debbie recalls.

Debbie was just one victim of what the 'Consumer Federation of America' calls an 'emerging energy audit scam'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Grant is with the Consumer Federation of America. She says, "The scammers send consumers post cards or make phone calls offering them free energy audits that will save them hundreds of dollars a month on their utility bills."

Grant says the auditors often imply they're with a government agency or utility company. "Their real intent is to get into consumers homes and sell them things that actually don't save them any money at all."

And shoddy, substandard work can also be the result! These pictures were taken inside a home where investigators say the owner fell for a free energy audit scam--- and paid a company to put in insulation. Turns out the contractor was unlicensed and never returned to finish the job.

Jason Ohman is a Consumer Protection Investigator. "We've seen cases where work has not been completed fully or where people were not really benefitting from any of the savings they were told," he explains.

Phone solicitations for free home energy audits are among the fastest growing 'Do Not Call List' complaints around the country. Debbie said no to the sales pitch she got, but warns, the person with the pitch can be persistent.

"The formula is these people get in your house and once they're in your house its hard to get them out of the house," Debbie says.

Many utility companies do offer legitimate free energy audits, but they most likey won't cold call or solicit you. You would need to call your gas or electric company to set it up.

If anyone does come to your door be sure to ask for identification to see whom he or she actually works for.