Fraudsters simply cancel your electricity contract: How to protect yourself
Your old electricity supply contract has been terminated. Instead, you now have a new electricity supplier that is more expensive. But you didn’t initiate the change at all, scammers were at work. This is how the nasty scam works and this is how you defend yourself.
Caution: Fraudsters replace cheap electricity contracts with more expensive ones without the knowledge of the customer.
Stadtwerke Cham (a town in eastern Bavaria) and consumer advocates warn of a particularly brazen type of telephone fraud that probably nobody expects: power supply contracts are terminated without the knowledge of the customer and replaced with new, more expensive contracts. The BR reports.
This is how the scam works
The scammers call their unsuspecting victims and pretend to be Stadtwerke employees, in current examples as Stadtwerke Cham employees. During the conversation, the gangsters try to elicit important data from the victims for the conclusion of an electricity supply contract, namely meter numbers for electricity (and in some cases also for gas), bank details and address. With this information, the fraudsters can transfer the customer’s existing contracts to a new provider without the customer’s signature.
In another variant of this scam, the callers pretend to be consumer advocates and advertise price comparisons for electricity and gas. You are trying to persuade the customer to enter into a new contract. If the person called agrees to the new offer promised to him over the phone, he should simply send an SMS with his name and “yes” to the number provided. Shortly thereafter, the previous provider sends written confirmation of the cancellation. But the customer does not have the conditions of the new contract in writing anywhere.
Consumer advocates even report cases in which fraudsters have managed to obtain the customer data required for a provider change without the fraudsters even having spoken to the customer. The fraudsters then terminated the cheaper old contracts. This is possible if the new provider does not show the customer a written power of attorney – that would actually be necessary.
Victims can do that
As soon as you learn about the new contract:
Cancel this in writing by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt
and apply to switch to the old provider. But you might not get the old tariff anymore, according to consumer advocates.
Registered mail is not always legally secure
How to protect yourself
Never give out meter numbers and bank details to people you do not know over the phone. Such data should only be entered in writing on a form if you expressly request the change.
If someone calls you and asks for your meter number and/or bank details, end the call immediately.
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