DTE Energy and Consumer's Energy utility fraud is on the rise in Michigan and is accomplished with Caller ID spoofing technology, called Voice Over IP (VoIP) allowing scammers to victimize energy consumers over the telephone.
The DTE Energy telephone solicitor scam continues to plague various areas across Metropolitan Detroit requiring utility consumers to be aware and protect themselves against the compulsory utility bill payment hoax.
Initial reports of DTE and Consumers Energy utility fraud scam alerts from the energy giants and Michigan police date as far back as April 2013 and as recent as July 2018. Imposter utility workers would primarily approach small businesses threatening immediate utility shut-offs and demanding immediate payments.
However, investigators are finding the most recent cases reported are due to new telephone app technology which has emboldened imposters in victimizing a growing number of Michigan residential energy customers.
In the latest version of the scam, imposters are contacting energy customers via mobile phone as telephone solicitors from the utility company demanding immediate payment began to resurface the scam since the onset of the 2019 post-Holiday season.
It appears that telephone solicitation has become the preferred method of perpetrating the fraud with new app technology that allow culprits to call customers from legitimate utility company phone numbers.
Computer Calling Technology
The reemergence of DTE Energy utility scams can be credited to software technology referred to as Voice Over IP (VoIP) which is a means of Caller ID spoofing that has taken the scammer’s arsenal of deceptive tactics to another level.
Voice Over Internet Protocol, or Voice Over IP (VoIP) is a method of computer calling via broadband internet connections or private corporate networks that allow transmitters to bypass traditional telephone switchboard routes called PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).
There is little to no need for special equipment or services except where adapters are required as these applications convert the caller's voice into a digital signal subverting telephone networks so that the call can be made directly from a computer or other data-driven devices.
The technology is available on Skype and other commonly known software applications.
In short, don’t trust your Caller ID as the callers are able to adopt the phone numbers of legitimate companies such as DTE Energy giving them credibility in alarming their victims with threats of immediate service interruption.
In other words, the success of the scam is largely due to the caller's ability to contact customers from a recognizable corporate phone number.
DTE Energy executive offices report fraudulent utility bill collections in excess of $200,000 for the 2017 winter season.
Michigan Energy Consumer Protection Laws
As previously reported, energy consumers should be aware that utility shut-offs during the winter season are illegal in the State of Michigan.
The Michigan Legislature MCL 460.9t(7), a utility shut-off protection statute, provides that energy providers who have opted-out of the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) funding plan are prohibited from terminating residential utility services for non-payment during the “crisis season” from November 1 – April 15 per each fiscal year.
Participating MEAP providers (including DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, and SEMCO) are prohibited from residential utility shut-offs due to non-payment from November 1 – March 31 each fiscal year.
The 2019 fiscal year runs from October 1, 2018 – September 31, 2019.
Tips for Avoiding the DTE Utility Fraud
The Community Advocate Network of Michigan has been fielding calls from residents complaining about being victimized by these scammers.
If you believe that you have victimized, I recommend that you file a police report and contact your utility provider right away.
DTE and Consumers Energy are fully aware of the problem and should be notified when your account has been compromised or if you have been forced to make fraudulent payments. You should contact your utility provider and request a credit to your account and you may report the crime to the Michigan Public Service Commission for further assistance.
Help is available if you need assistance with paying utility bills. Follow the links below and visit the Utility Assistance - Community Resources section for more information.
Michigan Energy Assistance Programs (MEAP) FY19
Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) Grantees Announced
Utility Imposters Up Their Game with Technology
DTE Energy - Tips for Avoiding Utility Fraud and Utility Imposters
The Fair Isaac Corporation is a data analytics company that developed the FICO credit scoring system now the lending industry standard for measuring consumer credit risk. FICO credit ranges from 300 to 850 and rankings from poor to excellent serve to help lenders assess consumer risk and determine whether to extend credit.
FICO Scores are calculated based solely on information in consumer credit reports maintained at the credit reporting agencies. You have FICO Scores for each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. In other words, each FICO Score is based on information that the credit bureau keeps on file about you.
Christmas is over and the New Year has begun:
“Excellent” Credit Score Range
No matter which scale is used, those whose scores are in the highest range are considered to have excellent credit and present the lowest credit risk.
An excellent credit score not only almost guarantees acceptance when applying for most types of credit, including nearly any of the top credit cards that catch your fancy, but also ensures the absolute best interest rates and the lowest fees.
“Good” Credit Score Range
While continuing to command competitive interest rates, those falling into the “good” range of credit scores will likely not see the ideal rates obtained by the people in higher categories. In addition, it may be harder to qualify for some types of credit.
“Fair” or “Average” Credit Score Range
Those who fall into the ranges for “fair” (sometimes called “average”) credit range may have some faults in their credit history but no major delinquencies. Many lenders will approve applicants with “fair” credit but borrowers will be unlikely to see very competitive interest rates.
“Poor” Credit Score Range
Applicants who fall into the range described as having “poor” credit will have a difficult time getting approved for most types of credit. If approved, these borrowers will likely see unfavorable rates and may have to meet larger down payment requirements for secured loans.
Here are three reasons it’s worth doing the work to get to “excellent credit” in 2019.
- Better loan rates
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Next, let’s touch on Employers and Your Credit
Employers sometimes check credit to get insight into a potential hire, including signs of financial distress that might indicate risk of theft or fraud. They don’t get your credit score, but instead see a modified version of your credit report. The report will show your payment record, the amount you owe and your available credit.
You do however have legal rights in regards to an employer checking your credit. An employer must notify you if it intends to check your credit and must get your written permission. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the notice to be “clear and conspicuous” and not mixed in with other language.
Why would an employer look at your credit? An applicant’s credit history can flag potential problems an employer would want to avoid:
- Lots of late payments could indicate you’re not very organized and responsible, or don’t live up to agreements
- Using lots of available credit or having excessive debt are markers of financial distress, which may be viewed as increasing the likelihood of theft or fraud
- Any evidence of mishandling your own finances could indicate a poor fit for a job that involves being responsible for company money or consumer information
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Know that an excellent credit score is key to your financial future. There are a number of ways you can benefit from having a high credit score. But the bottom line to having great credit is simple: It -saves - you - money!
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18 Illegal Questions for Employers to Ask
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Tonya Dunigan is a Credit Professional. She also has many years in the business as an insurance specialist, including Disability, Healthcare, Worker’s Compensation and Life Insurance. I have a passion and desire to help people restore their credit so they can establish and reach their goals. As well as an opportunity to earn additional income and become your own boss!
If you would like more information on Credit Restoration call me or text me at:
Email me at RestoringTheCredit@gmail.com or visit my website: RestoringTheCredit.com
Welcome to The Community Advocate Network. My name is Deborah Mitchell, I am a graduate in Social Work and Registered Social Work Technician. My human service background began in 2007 which includes medical case management and service navigation for the indigent population, outpatient mental health counseling with substance use and abuse disorders, supportive employment and job development for mental health consumers, and structured living domicile management.
In 2016, I completed my Bachelors Degree in Social Work and began my graduate studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
On this platform we will be reviewing social topics and news and providing resources to community programs and services. It is my goal to maintain a recovery-focused, service-oriented environment while working to expand the capacities of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities in developing and restoring optimal social and economic functioning.