Residence Vitality Audit Rip-off – CBS Philly
By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you get a quote for a free or low cost energy audit, you may want to hold back. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan Explains What You Need To Know Before Allowing This Reviewer Into Your Home.
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Debbie Katt, like many homeowners, is interested in cutting utility bills and making their home more energy efficient. When someone showed up at her door and offered a free home energy audit, she agreed. She says: “He presented himself as if he were an official.”
After checking her attic, windows, and doors, the so-called “auditor” told her that she should buy a $ 4,000 solar ceiling for the attic. It was then that she realized that the “auditor” was really a salesman.
Katt almost fell victim to what the Consumer Federation of America called “energy audit fraud” as emerging. Susan Grant of the Consumer Federation says, “The scammers are sending postcards or phone calls to consumers with free energy audits that can save hundreds of dollars in electricity bills each month.”
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The accountants often imply that they are with a government agency or a utility, but according to Grant, “Their real purpose is to get into consumers’ homes and sell them things that will save them no money at all.”
In fact, you could end up with a big mess on your hands. In one house, according to the investigators, the owner fell for the fraud and paid a company to install the insulation. It turned out that the contractor was not licensed and never came back to finish the job. Consumer protection investigator Jason Ohman says, “We have seen cases where the work was not fully completed or where people did not really benefit from the savings they were told.”
Many utility companies offer legitimate free energy audits, but they most likely won’t call you or ask for you – you would have to call your gas or electricity company to get it set up.
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For more advice on dealing with a door-to-door seller and information on your rights to make an in-home sale, visit: www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/products/pro03. shtm