IDT Energy Scammers Knocked On Our Door

Yesterday, a salesman from IDTenergy knocked on our door.

He lied and said he was from ConEdison and he said there was a problem with our electric bill. We later shared the following with the 911 dispatcher…


He had a shaved head. There was a large lettered tattoo on the right side of his neck. He wore a black coat with a fringed hood that sorta looked like one that might be issued by a city service. He wore gray slacks and polished black shoes. At first we thought he was from the trash police because we had put some bottles out for the homeless to redeem.

He said he was from ConEd and he wanted us to sign something so we could “fix” our bill.

We said, “Not interested.” He asked if we even knew what he was going to talk about. We said, “Yes, you want us to sign up for a variable rate contract with IDT energy and switch over from ConEd.”

He gave us a grin and pulled out a ConEd bill. He pointed to the part that says how customers can save money by switching to an energy reseller.

We asked if he could leave us a brochure, or if he had a card or contact information. He said, “Nah.” We asked then how were were to get in contact with him if we changed our mind. He said he wasn’t going to come back over here, “just for one app.”

“Okay then,” we said, “No Sale,” and shut the door.

We called 911 and reported the salesman. We said a guy was going around pretending to work for ConEdison but was actually tricking people into switching their contracts. The dispatcher said they would send a car by to pick him up.

Today, we’ll file complaints with the Public Utilities Commission, FCC (for false advertising), BBB, and New York Attorney General.

We understand how it’s possible to save money with an energy resellers, but we wish to see punished any company that systematically has its agents pose as working for another company in order to complete the sale.

Currently, our post, “IDT Energy Bilks Grandpa,” is the number 2 Google result for “IDT Energy.” — BEN POPKEN

Previous stories about IDT Energy.

Comments

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  1. acambras says:

    Good work, Ben! That IDT guy picked the wrong guy to fuck with.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Wait…did he actually say “I’m fron ConEd?”

    I’m not to familiar with this scam, it’s news to me, so I’m not 100% sure how it works (gonna go read that post about Grandpa)

  3. Magicube says:

    Good for you. I can only imagine how many people might fall for that.
    Isn’t 911 for emergencies? Why not put your local precinct’s number on speed dial? It will cost taxpayers a lot less money and free up an incoming line for someone who might be, say, bleeding to death.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    Magic, it’s for reaching dispatch. Often if you call the precinct, they will tell you to call 911.

  5. orielbean says:

    @magicube – While I agree with keeping the lines open, who knows what else that character would be up to? He doesn’t sound very professional, and many unscrupulous salespeople / home repair techs use their position to scope out potential robbery targets. I don’t mean to sound paranoid or inflammatory, but I do know that a rapid response by the police to pick him up would help keep him out of the area in the future. At the very least he probably wouldn’t come back to that house.

  6. acambras says:

    Oh, I don’t think he’ll be heading back over to the Popken residence anytime soon.

  7. telecompolicygeek says:

    Actually, the FCC doesn’t handle false advertising complaints — or any complaints about energy utilities. That’s the FTC’s job.

    That said, PLEASE send the FCC complaints about wireless, landline phone and cable problems.

  8. Michael says:

    “He said he was from ConEd and he wanted us to sign something so we could ‘fix’ our bill.”

    As if ConEd couldn’t fix a problem on your bill without your signature…

  9. Principia says:

    Ah, what a heartwarming Christmas tale.

    Not content to get his consumer protection action on by phone and email, our hero gets to bust heads in person.

    Is this a problem specific to just this one energy reseller? If so, why aren’t the honchos of this ScamCo in jail yet?

    We’ve got energy resellers in my area (the DC ‘burbs), and I’ve yet to hear anything like the shenanigans you describe as happening on a regular basis.

  10. Principia, It happens all the time. In fact the reason I first came to Consumerist was when a gas company scam like this was almost pulled on my wife at her office. These energy resellers may be legitimate, but the means they use to sign people on are anything but. Also, I think Ben or some posters have pointed to articles detailing legal investigations and even injunctions(if that’s what they’re called) against these companies in some areas.

    Lastly, if you have a “No Solictors” sticker on your door and one of these IDT guys comes to your door, can you shoot them?

  11. informer says:

    @crayon: Only if you live in Texas.

  12. Mike_ says:

    911 is for emergency calls: threats to life, limb or property (e.g. medical emergency, injury accident or fire), or crimes in progress. For anything else, you should use the seven-digit non-emergency number (in the phone book) or 311 (if available).

    I think it was acceptable to use 911 here, since this guy was actively trolling the area for victims to scam. Also, law enforcement is sensitive to the problem of criminals misrepresenting themselves as utility employees to gain access to homes. If you’ve got someone at your door saying he’s from ConEd when he clearly is not (ask for ID), it’s perfectly reasonable to call 911, no matter what the sales pitch.

    911 Consumer Information (FCC – pops)

    I wonder if he would have stuck around if you asked him to “hang on a minute while I wrap up a phone call”. Then you could have called 911, returned to the door, and pretended you were interested until an officer arrived.

  13. MattyMatt says:

    When I worked in retail, we were trained to call 911 if we suspected shoplifters. Even though it’s not a major crime, it’s still a crime, and they have a better chance of catching the guy if you call the “send the cops out” number.

  14. zentec says:

    These people have scam written all over them. Check out their web site and this nonsense about “Green Energy” during the month of December.

    http://www.idtenergy.com/green_new.aspx

    It’s the same electricity that your neighbors on ConEd use. The only thing different is the billing and ostensibly, the fact that IDT is playing the commodity market and by extension, so are you. You might be able to save some money right now, but I doubt that’ll be the case when the next heat wave rolls through and it’s 90 degrees and peak demand for electricity is at an all-time high.

    Not that I want to be a shill for electricity producers, but IDT and their ilk are parasites. They do not produce anything, they’re traders. Why people would want to enjoy the benefits of market prices for electricity after seeing gasoline prices for the past couple of years totally escapes me.

    Of course, that’s what IDT is hoping for; that people don’t see it.

  15. Heymoe says:

    Hmm, a shaved head. Ben, he was a skinhead! IDT sold electricity to the Nazis. Dig deeper and you’ll see the connection between the Nazi’s and everything else.

    Oops, I’m preaching to the choir.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    How about I dig deeper and ban you? Oops, I already did it.

  17. Anonymous says:

    actually ( IDT) is a supplier of all other suppliers & there is no scam . how it works ? con ed dosent make energy they buy it from an authorized supplier and they deliver it to you thats all . why (IDT) should be the supplier?
    this is why:

    Buy Green Today…
    For A Better Tomorrow!
    With choice comes responsibility. You can now choose a supplier for electricity for your home. Part of that choice is the decision about what kind of electricity you are going to buy.

    “Buying Green” means that the electricity that you buy comes from sources that capitalize on our natural resources without harming the environment. Energy sources such as wind, running water, organic matter and the sun provide the utilities we need while preserving the quality of our earth. Energy from renewable, natural sources is a clean choice compared to the environmental effects of standard electricity. The production of energy from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas pollute our air and endanger our safety.

    The State of New York is striving to be a center of clean-technology development, with a 10-year goal of being 25% percent green, and (IDT) has joined their effort. You can too. For every dollar you spend each month on green electricity, you will continue to receive safe, reliable electricity delivered to your home along with the added benefits of:

    * Increased use of renewable energy sources
    * Healthier air
    * Reduced need for nuclear power plants
    * Less dependency on foreign oil
    * More domestic job opportunities

    Small Amount, Large Impact

    How much will it cost you to make a difference?

    IDT Energy estimates that the average monthly electricity use for an individual is about 250 kilowatt hours, and average monthly electricity use for a household is about 750 kilowatt hours. We are offering green electricity for just 1.5 to 2.5 cents per kWh more than you would pay for standard electricity. This means that for about seven dollars per person or about nineteen dollars per household you can have the security of knowing that your energy dollars are helping the environment, the economy, and our security.
    for more informations about (IDT) visit website :
    http://www.idtenergy.com
    thank you