North Fork of the Blackfoot River

Don’t Fall For A Scam – Call Us First!

Posted: June 1, 2020

The energy industry is undergoing rapid change and technology is paving the way for innovation in the way energy is used, produced, stored and shared. Consumers are interested in more green energy alternatives while smart homes and apps make managing energy use and paying your electric bill more convenient than ever.

While the changing energy market has created more options for consumers, it has also resulted in more utility scams and misleading information surrounding energy saving products.

Utility scams are common because of the vast number of utilities that exist, and consumers are understandably anxious with the threat of disruption to their electric, heating or water service. Second, new products and services in the energy industry provide an opening for scammers and pop-up companies to provide misleading information or shoddy products and services.

Avoid Phone Scams

A common phone scam typically begins with a phone number that appears to be from a valid utility company. The scammer will claim you have a past due account and threaten to disconnect service or take legal action. The scammer will typically demand that you use a prepaid debit card or money order, often within a very short, urgent time frame to pay the “past due” amount.

You can combat this scam by being aware of the status of your account. Never give your banking or personal information over the phone to someone you did not call. If you have a question or concern about your energy bill, call us directly at 406-541-4433. Do not use the phone number given by the scammer.

Avoid Energy Efficiency Scams

Every year, we see a new scam pop up promising to save members money and energy. Homeowners are often contacted via the mail with an invitation for a free steak dinner and a seminar promising to cut energy bills in half. Often the sales pitch involves the installation of a radiant barrier or a solar attic fan. Complaints about these fly-by-night efficiency products filed with the Better Business Bureau describe higher than expected costs and shoddy installation practices. Just like there is no such thing as a free lunch (or dinner in this case), you will be hard pressed to find legitimate miracle devices that will cut your bills in half. In our climate, the key to lower energy bills boils down to adding insulation, sealing cracks and upgrading windows and doors. The good news is, if you heat with electricity, MEC likely has a rebate program that fits your needs.

Use Trusted Sources

If you’re considering installing an energy efficiency upgrade in your home, make sure you are working with a reputable company. This often means seeking out a local contractor, rather than responding to a slick flier that shows up in your mailbox or on your door handle. When it comes to rebates, don’t take the installer’s word for it; utility rebate programs often require certified contractors, pre and post-inspections, specific models of equipment from qualified product lists as well as other information showing the installation is legitimate. Why do we do this? To be sure, it isn’t because we like paperwork. Our rebate programs are designed to pay members for the savings they achieve, and we have to be confident the work will yield those savings.

Missoula Electric Cooperative is your local energy experts and we are here to offer guidance for increasing your home’s efficiency. In addition, we can help you with finding qualified contractors and help you make sure you have all the documentation you need so we can process your rebate request without a hitch.

In this ever-changing environment, it’s important to remember you have a trusted energy advisor – your local electric cooperative. We are a community-focused organization that works to efficiently deliver affordable, reliable and safe energy to our members.

Remember, we’re just one call or click away, so please reach out with any questions about your electric service or bills – we’re here to help.