What Can Someone Do With Your Electric Bill

Everyone must pay for electricity, regardless of where they live or whether they own or rent their residence. However, you might not be aware of it because you might be financing someone else’s electricity. People open accounts with electricity providers using stolen identification. KPRC 2 Investigates reveals how little the electricity industry is doing to prevent this from happening, but there are some steps you can take to safeguard your personal data.

You adjust your thermostat, close your blinds to block out the sun, and turn off the lights when you leave a room to save energy. Craig Kooken took all reasonable measures to keep his electricity costs down. He was powerless to stop the thieves from amassing $4,469 in his name.

Kooken explained, “Your social security number is being stolen, and they’re using a fake email address and a fake phone number.”

Nobody is certain how the burglars obtained Kooken’s social security number, but we do know that once they did, they used it to apply for electricity at seven different addresses from seven different electric providers. The residents of an apartment building and homes in Humble, Spring, and Katy used the electricity for more than three months last year but never paid the bills before quietly leaving.

When Kooken received the collection letters in November, his once-impeccable credit score had fallen to 690 from 832.

All seven electric companies where fraudulent accounts were opened using Kooken’s information were contacted by KPRC 2 Investigates. None of them disclosed to us how they authenticate new clients.

This is not a new problem. You saw a similar story about ID theft fraud involving an electric company in 2013 thanks to KPRC 2 investigations.

According to HPD’s John Shirley, “a criminal takes advantage of lax internal controls in a company, and that’s where they’re kind of intelligent.” “They look for the holes. ”.

Then, the senior vice president of Direct Energy told KPRC 2 Investigates that he did not believe it was very simple to open an electric account using another person’s social security number.

But eight years later, Direct Energy, where one false account was created in Kooken’s name, has made no adjustments to make it more difficult for people to create false accounts in someone else’s name.

Kooken stated that “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results” is the definition of insanity. “You know, if they’re making money, what do they care. ”.

Electric providers want to make it simple for customers to get service, which is why the majority of businesses only require a social security number and a name, according to Public Utility Commission Director of Customer Protection Richard Saldana. The applicant’s identity is not being checked by anyone at the electric company.

Tom Gorup of Alert Logic said, “Authentication and identity management is a big, tough problem to solve.”

Gorup, who works for Alert Logic as the Vice President of Security Operations, aids businesses in safeguarding customer information. He claimed there are programs available to assist businesses in confirming applicants’ identities.

When authentication software poses a series of questions that only you would know the answers to, such as the name of the street you lived on 20 years ago, this is an illustration of identity verification in action.

Businesses would only want to spend money on authentication software if they are losing more money to electricity fraud financially.

Consumers in Texas reported a total of 25 complaints about identity theft and utility service registration from September to December, according to the PUC. 1, 2020 to August 30, 2021.

OP should be wary. Photo ID plus an electricity bill is enough to do a lot of things in someone else’s name, from getting a SIM card to opening a bank account.

Your best line of defense against falling for a scam is to simply be aware of the different kinds that criminals use. Protect your identity and always check the status of your account before believing anything someone says to you during an unauthorized call or visit. A representative from the real business will be glad to let you verify your account information.

The energy company will bill your landlord if they are in charge of paying for your energy. Any letters you receive regarding unpaid invoices should be sent to your landlord or property manager. It’s extremely unlikely that you could owe the neighborhood utility company or an energy supplier money if you don’t have a direct, established relationship with them. Call the customer service number posted prominently on the energy provider’s website if you’re unsure of your obligations. They can confirm whether you are responsible for making energy payments or not.

Be cautious if someone comes knocking and requests sensitive information such as credit card numbers or your social security number because our door-to-door representatives won’t ask you to write it down. The customer must securely enter any private information into our system using an iPad. To ensure your data is secure, Just Energy door-to-door representatives never enter this information themselves. Additionally, they’ll see to it that you get a copy of your new contract.

If you’re not paying close attention, it may be challenging to distinguish between real door-to-door salespeople and impostors. Ask for a permit before allowing anyone into your home because lawful workers always have one with them. Additionally, our employees dress in branded items like hats, jackets, and shirts that feature our logo. It’s likely a scammer is at your door if you aren’t given a business card or don’t see printed materials outlining energy plans and rates.

Door-to-door scammers are more like the stereotypical con man. They pose as legitimate door-to-door salespeople and promise to lower your rates and reduce your energy costs. They’ll make an effort to connect with you and will use friendly conversation to subtly elicit personal information from you. Their ploy is different from the phone scammers.

Those who want to keep their electricity on can get assistance. If you’re behind on payments, it’s critical to start the process as soon as possible. Use whenever you need to contact the utility company directly, as well as any assistance-provider agencies or organizations. Do not be shy about applying for assistance.

Consider the state of Ohio. Utility companies are urged by the state to use either a one-ninth, one-sixth, or one-third plan. The one-ninth plan enables customers to join the budget billing plan and pay off their debt in nine equal payments. Less than one-sixth, in addition to the regular bill, the past due amount is paid in six installments. During the winter heating season, consumers are permitted to pay one-third of the amount due (past and present) under the one-third plan.

For more than 25 years, Pat McManamon has worked as a journalist. His background is primarily in sports, but the world of athletics necessitates an understanding of business and economics. Additionally, he is quite adept at using Quicken to manage investments and balance a checkbook. LeBron James was covered by McManamon for the Akron Beacon Journal and AOL Fanhouse, the NFL by ESPN, the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes by the Palm Beach Post, and the NBA for the same publications.

Americans were reportedly more than $20 billion in arrears on their utility and water bills as of the summer of 2021, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA). The winter of 2021-22 could present significant challenges. From December 2020 to December 2021, the cost of natural gas, which many people use to heat their homes, increased by 60%, and homes that use electricity for heating anticipated a 15% price increase.

Usually, a bill for electricity is sent out 21 days after the meter reading. You have up to 30 days after receiving the bill to pay it. If you don’t pay, the fallout depends where you live. Many cold-weather states do not allow shutoffs in winter. However, a few days after the due date, a utility will send a notice that the bill is unpaid. Depending on where you live, you would then have a few days to a few weeks before the electricity is turned off once you receive that notice.

Steps to stop thieves from opening accounts in your name

Here are some steps you can take to help safeguard your personal data.

  • Be picky about where you write your social security number
  • The company frequently requests your social security number when you fill out forms as part of the onboarding procedure.

    Gorup advised people to pause before writing their social security number down on a piece of paper. “Most of the time, even when businesses or doctors request it, they don’t need it. Leave the space blank. ”.

    It’s probably been said before, but one of the best ways to protect your identity is to do this. Gorup suggests using different passwords for different accounts. Take it from Kooken if you think this will be a hassle; cleaning up the mess left by the fraud is much worse.

    “It probably took five months. Five months,” Kooken said. “And that was me working hard at it- being tenacious. ”.

    If this happens to you and the electric companies aren’t cooperating clearing your name, you can file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas. You can call them at 888-782-8477. The commission said it can reach out to the company on your behalf to speed things up.

    There are services that can help monitor your credit reports. They can identify any problem areas and aid in the capture of criminals before the issue becomes too serious.

    5 Simple Tricks to Lower Your Energy Bill 50% or MORE Guaranteed!


    Can someone steal your identity from a utility bill?

    Identity thieves open utility accounts and accrue debts in the victim’s name using stolen personal information. More than 31,000 reports of identity theft related to utilities were filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019.

    Why are people knocking on my door asking about my utilities bill?

    Door-to-door frauds are successful because the con artist sees your bill, notes your account number, and then switches your service to a different plan and provider (probably at a higher rate) without you ever realizing it. Your first indication that someone might be running a scam is if they ask for your bill. Ask for ID.

    Who helps with electric bills in Oklahoma?

    Approximately 182,000 low-income households in Oklahoma receive financial assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program, each year to help them cover the cost of home energy.

    How can I get help with my electric bill in Louisiana?

    The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps qualifying households pay their utility bills on a monthly basis. Priority is given to those who might be elderly, disabled, have young families, or use the most energy.




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