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Scammers targeting Utah citizens with solar energy panels pitch

By Jessica Kokesh, Standard-Examiner Staff - | Jan 4, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY — Have you recently received a call urging you to act quickly to receive special pricing on solar energy panels? Utah state officials say it’s a scam.

The Utah Department of Commerce said Tuesday it has received reports of a phony telemarketing scheme where callers pretend to be from a fake state government agency. According to the reports, Utah citizens are being contacted by the “Utah Public Utilities Commission” and told there is upcoming deadline regarding solar energy panels. 

“The Utah Public Service Commission does not make telemarketing calls to the public, and does not authorize anyone to do so on its behalf. Anyone who claims otherwise is simply lying,” said Thad LeVar, chair of the Public Service Commission, in a release. 

Scams like this use common elements like official, government-sounding names to lure the public into believing its true, according to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. Other recent phony phone calls have used the IRS and other government entities. 

“Imposter scams prey on your trusting nature with convincing names and language to confuse you into thinking it’s the real deal. Hang up the phone and call the real agency to verify before acting first,” said Francine A. Giani, executive director of the Department of Commerce.

The Department of Commerce offered these five tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Do not wire money, share account information, or send a check money order using an overnight delivery or courier service. 
  • Do not pay for a prize. If you enter a legitimate sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay insurance, taxes or shipping charges to collect your prize. It is illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or over the phone. 
  • Do not give the caller your financial or other personal information. 
  • Do not trust a name or number. No government official will ask you to send money to collect a prize and they won’t call to collect debt. 
  • Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov. 

To file a complaint about a government imposter, visit ftc.gov/complaint. Include the date and time of call, the name of the government agency the imposter used, details of from the call and the phone number the caller used. 

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