State Representative Matt Lesser (D-Durham/Middlefield/
Middletown) received a surprising visit yesterday at his home.
Lesser answered a knock at his Middletown apartment’s door last evening and a man indentified himself as a CL&P (Connecticut Light and Power) employee.
"We're going through the area lowering electric rates and I need to see a copy of your most recent electric bill," said the supposed CL& P employee, who was holding a clipboard and wearing a badge.
Lesser, a freshman legislator who sits on the Energy Committee, doubted that the man was an actual CL&P employee.
"I've heard complaints about some of these guys so I knew what was going on, but it's amazing how brazen he was," Lesser said. "They're trying to trick you into switching your electric supplier.”
The scammer quickly departed from Lesser’s doorway after the legislator asked a few questions, but tried knocking on neighbors' doors until Lesser brought out a camera and started taking notes. Then the man left the area.
"Most competitive suppliers are good people, but there are scammers and thieves out there," warned Lesser. “The reports I've been getting from my constituents suggest that seniors are being especially targeted. Many of these salesmen have strong financial incentives to sign up as many customers as possible, and it's like the Wild West out there."
Stronger consumer protections were a centerpiece of a comprehensive energy reform bill (SB 493) that Lesser championed. The bill was passed by the legislature earlier this year, but was then vetoed by Governor Rell.
"We certainly need stronger protections," Lesser said, "but misrepresenting yourself like that is already illegal."
Following the incident, Lesser filed complaints with the Middletown Police and the state Department of Public Utility Control.
Lesser is encouraging anyone who receives a visit from someone purporting to be from their utility company to call the company to verify employment.
“Unless you have requested service, there is almost no reason for any person to ask to enter your home. A legitimate worker will not be offended if you want to verify their employment—so do not be embarrassed to call,” Lesser said.
Lesser added that people who believe they have been approached by a scammer should file reports with their local police departments and the state Department of Public Utility Control.