Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is warning residents to watch out for fraudulent alternative energy solicitors this holiday season.
Raoul says that these suppliers are private, for-profit companies that sell electricity and natural gas to consumers. Raoul is encouraging holiday shoppers to be wary of pitches by sales representatives in stores and to be aware that alternative retail energy suppliers are not endorsed by the state or any utility or utility program.
While people may be accustomed to door-to-door solicitations and telemarketing, Raoul said alternative retail energy suppliers might take advantage of the busy holiday shopping season to approach customers in retail stores, shopping malls, and common spaces such as train stations and office building lobbies. Raoul also is urging retailers and store owners to help protect their customers by precluding such suppliers from marketing inside or around their stores.
In their marketing, suppliers typically claim to offer cheaper electricity and gas compared with a customer’s public utility provider, but many customers who sign up will end up paying much more than the public utility rates says Rauol.
In the last five years, Illinois customers who signed up with alternative retail electric suppliers paid more than $870 million more for electricity than if they had stayed with their public utility.
This year, Raoul initiated the Home Energy Affordability and Transparency (HEAT) Act, which will go into effect on Jan. 1. The HEAT Act requires suppliers to disclose critical pricing information, prohibits them from imposing termination fees to residential and small commercial customers, and gives the Attorney General’s office improved tools to shut down suppliers that engage in fraudulent and misleading conduct and return money to consumers who have been harmed.