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Consumers Energy warns of fake workers trying to enter homes

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News
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Consumers Energy is warning customers that impostors claiming to be workers have aggressively tried to enter homes by threatening to shut off utility service. 

Only two reported incidents have occurred in the Flint and Lansing areas in the past few weeks, but the Jackson-based utility says it's alerting the public because the scams represent a "new level of aggressive behavior," said Consumers spokeswoman Debra Dodd. In both attempts, the fake workers didn't get into the homes partly because the impostors could not produce any identification. 

"Always ask for (identification) right away," Dodd said.  Consumers can then verify that identification by calling (800) 477-5050.

The impostors trying to gain entry into a home are "almost pushing their way in," based on reports of the two incidents, Dodd said. It's not clear if the same person or group of people are behind the scam. Consumers Energy is working with law enforcement regarding the incidents.

The scammers allegedly threatened to shut off service if not allowed into the home. In one of the incidents, the impostor said he needed to get inside to check the customer's gas meter. 

"The vast majority of our meters are outside homes," Dodd said. 

Consumers Energy gives these tips on how to spot a scam:
•    A contractor or employee for Consumers Energy will always wear a company identification badge and will gladly show it upon request.
•    There are times when Consumers Energy does have to shut electric and/or natural gas service off to a home for safety, security and nonpayment reasons; however, employees will never threaten to shut off service if you do not comply with immediate demands.
•    We will always provide advance notice if entrance to your home is needed.
•    If you are contacted via phone, Consumers Energy never demands payment, ask for personal information or prepaid credit cards over the phone. 
If someone feels they have been targeted by someone acting as a Consumers Energy employee, call 911. 

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy. It supplies natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN