Experts say with the warmer weather comes a rise in scams across the Chicago area – and offenders are emboldened to knock directly on their victims’ doors.
The Better Business Bureau and ComEd warned consumers on Tuesday about “deceptive door-knockers” who claim to be utility workers or contractors, but are really looking to steal your money or personal information.
According to the BBB, these kinds of con artists will knock on their victims’ doors and try to convince them to purchase a variety of shoddy home services, or attempt to take payment with false claims on their alarm, cable or electric services.
ComEd said the company has seen an alarming increase in a variety of energy-related scams, from fake utility workers to callers threatening to cut off power to a home unless an immediate payment is made.
“They’ll use any trick to get into your home,” said BBB Chicago president and CEO Steve Bernas. “Every week, we hear from consumers who have basically been duped in some way by allowing somebody into their house, whether it be, ‘I gotta check your water, your pipes in the basement. I want to take you out to the yard.’”
“We had one a few weeks ago that said, ‘I hit your garage on accident, can you come out and look at the garage damage?’ and basically the person went in the front door and robbed them,” Bernas added.
According to experts, there are ways to recognize these scams and protect yourself.
Officials warn against giving out your Social Security number or any personal information to someone who claims to be a utility worker without contacting the company first.
You also should not believe claims demanding payments in 30 minutes, or with cash or a prepaid debit card.
Consumers are also encouraged to report anything suspicious to the Better Business Bureau’s “Scam Tracker” on the agency’s website.
Published at 12:39 PM CDT on May 16, 2017 | Updated at 3:23 PM CDT on May 16, 2017