Beware of energy scammers going door to door



Please Note: Additional updates are at: Scams and scamming updates and related topics

An April 12, 2013 article in The Toronto Star begins with the following headline: “Ontario cracks down on door-to-door water heater sales.”

The subhead reads: “Province to introduce legislation to increase cool-off period for consumers who are approached by aggressive sales people.”

A June 1, 2013 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Barrie police warning of fake firefighters demanding money for inspections.”

An Oct. 19, 2013 CBC article is entitled: “Scotiabank manager’s death probe reveals multimillion-dollar fraud: Agents uncovered $14 million missing from Scotiabank accounts in Mexico.”

A Dec. 9, 2013 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Canadian Mental Health Association warns of door-to-door scam in Ontario.”

On a related topic, a Feb. 3, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Western Union agents accused of helping scammers.”

The subhead reads: “Victims and police believe agents didn’t verify ID on money transfers, perhaps intentionally.”

A Feb. 28, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “CBC readers give tips on avoiding bad investment advice.”

A March 3, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “BMO customer’s account emptied of $87K as bank falls for scam – Bank delayed taking financial responsibility for mistake for months.”

A March 3, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “How ‘synthetic’ identity fraud costs Canada $1B a year.”

A March 4, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Suspected terrorist links to synthetic ID fraud are being ‘ignored.'” The article notes: “Synthetic identity fraud is a scheme that procures new and genuine credit and identification cards using false names in order to create a fake identity.”

A March 12, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Fake Microsoft help line can fool even ‘computer literate.'”

A March 22, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Sleight-of-hand jewelry thefts continue, Vancouver police warn.”

An April 9, 2014 Gobe and Mail article is entitled: “Tips to help prevent hackers from stealing your bank data.”

The article notes: “New viruses, malware and other forms of security threats are constantly being developed by hackers and scammers, and occasionally they make the news.”

I’ve posted an item on April 12, 2014 regarding Wall Street scams:

Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders.

A July 17, 2014 CBC article is entitled: Staged collisions a ‘catalyst’ for larger insurance fraud: Organized auto-insurance fraud rings cost millions, put innocent drivers at risk.”

A Sept. 15, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Clients feel scammed as alleged lawyer misconduct kept quiet: Tens of thousands of dollars lost by small clients who trusted advice on whom to hire.”

An Oct. 18, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Health Canada warning: Stop using Miracle Mineral Solution immediately: Product contains a chemical used mainly as a textile bleaching agent.”

An Oct. 30, 2014 Imperial Valley News article is entitled: “Huntington Beach Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Nationwide Foreclosure Rescue Scam.”

An Oct. 31, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Remedy or ripoff? 5 things to watch out for: CBC’s Marketplace uncovers tactics behind popular natural treatments.”

A Nov. 6, 2014 Rolling Stone article is entitled: “The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare.”

A Nov. 20, 2014 CBC video about online scams is entitled: “Dot.con.”

A Jan. 8, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Dr. Oz, The Doctors’ TV advice not always supported by evidence: Review of shows by Alberta doctors concludes people need to be skeptical.”

A Jan. 9, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Craigslist luxury rental scam leaves Vancouver tenants on the sidewalk: Family left $26K poorer after signing up for discounted tenancy.”

A Feb. 10, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Lemon laws: 7 questions about a consumer protection law Canada doesn’t have.”

A May 18, 2015 CBC The Current article is entitled: ” ‘Empire of Deception’ tells story of master swindler Leo Koretz.”

A Feb. 26, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Canada Revenue Agency scam calls and emails have many red flags: ‘We would never do surprise calls,’ says CRA spokesperson Desmond Arsenault.”

A March 15, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “‘We are all doing it’: Employees at Canada’s 5 big banks speak out about pressure to dupe customers: Calls for parliamentary inquiry following Go Public investigation.”

A March 29, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “‘I feel duped’: Why bank employees with impressive but misleading titles could cost you big time: Most financial professionals in Canada are licensed as salespeople with no fiduciary duty to clients.”

[End of updates]

In the earlier version of this blog post I wrote:

I’ve recently received some information concerning energy scammers.

One recent email noted:

“Ontario Energy Board scammers have come to my door in Etobicoke twice this week. Let’s spread the word: don’t let them in, and don’t agree to anything. The OEB never goes door to door, nor does Enbridge, Direct Energy, or Ontario Hydro.

“They may ask to see your utility bill, or to inspect your equipment for efficiency. If they claim to represent the OEB, or a major gas company, they are probably lying. If you see them working your street, you can do your neighbourhood a favour by calling the police to report possible fraud.”

A May 15, 2010 Toronto Star article, Don’t fall victim to energy fraud at the door, warrants a close read.

A further comment, from another person on the Preserved Stories email list:

“As an addition to this email, it may be useful to note that Ontario Hydro does not exist. Electricity bills are primarily the domain of Toronto Hydro. And Toronto Hydro typically does not come door to door either.”

With regard to fraud, an Oct. 12, 2012 Etobicoke Guardian article is also of interest, as is an Oct. 26, 2012 Toronto Star article about a “geothermal expert” who’s been fined, jailed, and ordered to reimburse homeowners.

Neighbourhood Watch

There is so much value in residents keeping other informed about what’s happening in our communities — both the great things that are happening and the things to watch out for.

Click on the link in the previous sentence to open an Oct. 26, 2012 Etobicoke Guardian article – “Victim of vandalism, resident decides to bring back Neighbourhood Watch” – by Tamara Shephard.

Ontario Energy Board launches consumer awareness campaign – August 2012 news release

Also of interest is the following news release from the OEB:


Further updates

Some useful links:

A Wolf on Your Doorstep: Energy Contracts and Home Heating Scams (CARP website, Oct. 22, 2010)

As well, CBC’s The Marketplace is a valuable information source about scams of all kinds.

I owe thanks to Phil Gray for bringing my attention to the topic of door-to-door energy scammers quite some time ago.

A March 10, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “‘We do it because our jobs are at stake’: TD bank employees admit to breaking the law for fear of being fired.”

A March 10, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “Undercover investigation finds big markups, confusing charges and pushy tactics at major funeral home chain: Arbor says it ‘does not condone any behaviour in our staff that results in customers feeling pressured'”.

An April 17, 2017 CBC article is entitled: “‘Canada is in the Dark Ages’: Investment insiders reveal how lax laws put your financial interests last: Despite years of calls for reform, financial industry opposes greater investor protection.”

14 replies
  1. Phil Gray
    Phil Gray says:

    The Ontario Energy Board “impersonators” have gone to the extent of having “OEB” printed on their jackets in large bold letters. I wonder what story they would tell the police.

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      We much appreciate you bringing this topic to our attention, Phil. There is so much value in comparing information, and having a sense of how energy scammers go about their work.

  2. Kat D.
    Kat D. says:

    Two guys worked my street in the Stongate area today. The guy who addressed me as I was going into my house made claims that seemed to good to be true regarding my gas and Hydro bills, and wanted to come in to look at my most recent ones with me. Everything looked real official ( papers with logos, laminated name tag…). When I said I shredded bills and records were online, he said he’s be back next month so I could keep a copy… Be aware people!!!

  3. Virginia B
    Virginia B says:

    May 22 at 6 pm I had a girl come to my door saying that the black pipes would have to be changed in the new year to the white on my furnace. I told her my furnace was only 4 years old, but she said they were doing a survey in our small town with older homes. She went to my basement for about 4 minutes, said my furnace was fine, asked if I had AC, I said no, asked about my water heater, which I own. She also said that there were alot of people in my area and if they come to the door tell them that everything was fine. After she left, I had let a stranger into my home as she knew what to ask. I am a widow, and just took it for granted that this was on the up and up. Never Again will I let anyone into my home without proper ID.

  4. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Virginia. It’s by sharing such stories that we benefit from each other’s experiences.

    I originally posted information about this topic because one person sent me information about door-to-door scams. I’m pleased I posted it. Many people have read the posts on this topic. We have much to learn from each other.

    Even with what appears to be proper ID, one must be wary. Official-looking ID is at times part of the scam.

    Given that in some cases we’re dealing with issues that face us as we get older, and in some cases more vulnerable to scams, I want to mention an entirely different topic. That has to do with the challenges we face behind the wheel as we get older. I recently took a course for senior drivers offered by the CAA. I found this so valuable. Again, we can learn so much by comparing notes and talking of commonly encountered experiences.

  5. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    I’ve received an anonymous comment which refers to a company that “has been going around Ottawa (Avalon neighborhood in Orleans). I had someone at my door on July 17, 2013. He said he was affiliated with Ontario Energy Board and wanted to verify if I was paying Hydro One’s “new price” or “old price”. When he put me on the phone and they asked if I agreed to a 5 year contract, I hung up the phone and slammed the door in his face.”

  6. Paul Langan
    Paul Langan says:

    DIRECT ENERGY IMPOSTER – a very aggressive man wearing DIRECT ENERGY jacket and matching pants with IPAD with DIRECT ENERGY came to my door. Unbelievable he wanted to see our gas bill……….. he was persistent had a foot in the door. Told him to leave. We dont use Direct Energy and they dont have door to door salespersons. Cambridge Ontario September 23rd, 2013.

  7. lisa
    lisa says:

    I want to know what are our rights? What if the Door to Door documents were signed by a minor, or tenant, basically a non home owner. Is it still legal?

  8. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Good question. If anyone knows the answer, please let us know.

    I would add that I follow a number of people on Twitter who deal with these general kinds of questions. It’s good to do research about these topics.

  9. Lisa Kadonaga
    Lisa Kadonaga says:

    This is very helpful information — thanks Jaan and everyone! I just had a situation with a guy claiming to be from the “Ontario Energy Group” this afternoon. (It sounds so official, almost governmental …) I came back from the pharmacy with my elderly dad’s medication, only to find him in the kitchen with a young guy who was wearing a jacket with a fancy logo on it. Dad told me later that he’d let the guy in assuming that he was from our regular heating company, and the guy kind of led him on. He was telling Dad to sign a contract to get the furnace replaced. He mentioned the black/white plastic pipes thing that Virginia mentioned above — saying that we would be in violation of the new building code if we didn’t have a new furnace and pipes installed. He was pushing Dad to agree to have the workmen come on Sunday (!) — 3 days from now! A twist seems to be that the guy was setting up Direct Energy as the bad guy, noting that Dad’s hydro and gas bills were exorbitant, and that he had the authority to cancel the DE contract, so Dad could deal directly with the local utilities. So he was kind of impersonating 3 different organizations … our heating company, the provincial government, and the local utilities. (I looked up what was going on with Direct Energy, and it seems that he was right … they HAVE been penalized for unscrupulous sales practices. But he was doing the same thing that they did, get hold of a customer’s bills. Who knows, that guy may even have been working on the DE scam earlier himself.) I wish that I hadn’t let him walk out the door with those bills … a friend told me that she got suspicious and chased another OEG salesman out of her dad’s house before he could get them, several years ago.

    Dad was upset with me for being rude to the salesman. It took me hours to convince him that something was wrong … friends were forwarding me messages about their experiences, and articles plus reports of fraud to the BBB and consumer organizations. He now says that he’ll phone OEG tomorrow and cancel the contract. I’m going to stick around in case the rep, or the installers, show up this weekend. I hope Dad sticks by his decision. The sales guy was getting very chummy with him, chatting him up … Dad glared at me when I started asking questions. I tried to tell Dad that a laminated photo and nice glossy pamphlets plus business card — what Kat described above — don’t mean a company is legit. I tried Canada 411 reverse lookup on the office phone number and a different company’s name comes up.

  10. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    This is highly valuable information, Lisa. Thank you for sharing it.

    I’ve posted a link to these comments at my Twitter account @jaanpill

    I’m really pleased that I received an email message some time back, asking me to post information about door to door energy scams. I’m really pleased I received that email. The posts about such scams, at the Preserved Stories website, are among the most frequently visited pages at the site.

    The comments that people have shared are so valuable, and so much appreciated.

    I follow a range of Twitter accounts from police services in Canada that share information about scams and frauds. Such information is of tremendous value. The sharing of it is a key ingredient in the maintenance of a civil society, in my view.

    I want to express my appreciation for all of the people who are involved in anti-fraud efforts, in Canada and elsewhere.

  11. Gregory
    Gregory says:

    April 19, 2015 There is a ton of information on the internet about Direct Energy/ Enercare on both sides of the border, they took over Enbridge Hot Water Tank Rentals and are based in Texas. This company is still under an open investigation by the Competition Bureau of Canada (federal govt). Also you have to contact your local MP, provincial Consumer Protection office. These people are committing fraud, even forging customer signatures on contracts. The best solution: don’t open your door to them, they have no right to be on your property. I put a sign up “No Solictors or Salesman”. They almost broke my door a few weeks ago, when it was locked they forced the screen door open! They are ruthless, fraudulent, do not sign anything. Here is just one article on them:
    Buyer Beware – Don’t Buy From Direct Energy.
    Just get in touch with the above: Competition Bureau, who fined them 25 million dollars already, they are still doing these tactics. They are ripping off lower income, the elderly and are ruthless.
    You do not trust these energy companies today, thru more privatization, this will only get worse. They don’t have to answer to anyone. Buy your own hot water tank, do not rent from them, or you’ll pay thru the nose and they won’t let you out of your contract in a decade!

  12. Gregory
    Gregory says:

    April 2015 There’s more: Here are just a sampling of articles on Direct Energy Fraud.
    Some city police dept’s have received numerous complaints about aggressive tactics at your front door and even as far as forging signatures from door-to-door salesman. These complaints are still ongoing:
    Another: No Delight with Direct Energy
    April 29, 2008
    And more:

    They are targeting the elderly, pensioners, lower income and those who are not aware of their fraud. They are illegally making it very hard for customers who have old water tanks to get out of their contract, which they have been cited for and the best alternative is to buy your own tank. It may be a few bucks more at first, but get a loan or find the money, because you will be extremely sorry dealing with Direct Energy/Enercare or any other name they call themselves these days.


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