With the gradual lifting of COVID-19 safety restrictions, ComEd and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Chicago and Northern Illinois remind customers to be on the lookout for utility-company imposters approaching homes and businesses to steal information and valuables.
“ComEd takes seriously its responsibility to help our customers protect themselves,” said Nichole Owens, ComEd vice president of customer channels. “As residents become more comfortable talking with people outside their household, you can bet that imposters will take advantage of this opportunity to approach people at home in an attempt to steal their personal information, financial information and even their belongings.”
“With summer officially underway and the arrival of warm weather, we get the most reports of scams, including home repair, tree trimming, driveway and, of course, utility scams,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB Chicago and Northern Illinois. “We urge consumers to be extremely leery of anyone who knocks at your door or contacts you unsolicited by flyer, phone call or email. We also encourage consumers to do research on businesses and get references before you buy. A great place to start is BBB.org for free reviews and ratings.”
In-person energy-related scams
Utility scams consumers have reported to ComEd and the BBB include incidents of scammers who approach homes or small businesses posing as an employee from ComEd, another utility or a tree service company. They attempt to lure the resident or business owner outside to discuss work that the imposter claims needs to be completed. While the individual is outside, an accomplice will enter the home or business to steal valuables and documents containing the individual’s personal or financial information.
ComEd and the BBB have also learned of individuals visiting home and business owners, then asking for a copy of their utility bill or other personal documents to steal identities or switch the owner’s energy supplier without permission.
Scammers will sometimes call homes and small businesses using a number that appears to be a ComEd phone number. Offenders will also impersonate the names of ComEd and other trusted organizations by creating email addresses or websites that look like the real sites.
Tips to help identify scams
1. ComEd will never come to a customer’s home or business to:
- Demand a payment.
- Ask for immediate payment with a prepaid cash card, cryptocurrency or third-party banking app.
- Ask for your ComEd account number or other personal information, such as a driver’s license number.
2. ComEd will never call a customer to:
- Ask for their account number.
- Ask for personal information such as their Social Security number or bank information.
- Ask them to make a direct payment with a prepaid cash card, cryptocurrency or third-party banking app.
3. To identify an actual ComEd employee or communication, remember:
- All ComEd field employees wear a uniform with the ComEd logo, including shirt and safety vest.
- ComEd employees visibly display a company ID badge with the ComEd logo and employee’s name.
- Check the name on email or websites and make sure they match the name and address of the company you do business with. Look for misspellings or slight alterations.
- Make a call to verify the suspected email or website is from a trusted source. Use a phone number from your personal business records or the company’s official website and not the number provided in the email.
ComEd urges anyone who believes they have been a target or victim of a utility-related scam to call ComEd at 1-800-EDISON-1 (1-800-334-7661). To learn more, visit ComEd.com/ScamAlert.
BBB also urges anyone encountering a scam to report it to the BBB Scamtracker as a way to alert others and help protect the community. Consumers can also visit the BBB Scamtracker to view the latest scams nationally, right down to their community.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that holds businesses to a higher standard and connect consumers with businesses they can trust. We have served both local Chicago and Northern Illinois consumers and trustworthy businesses for over 95 years. We help protect consumers from fraudulent practices in the marketplace and provide an extensive free database for consumers to see business ratings and reviews for research before they buy.
Better Business Bureau