Elderly Rockford woman says she was nearly scammed by energy salesperson

‘I get confused.’
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 6:51 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — An elderly Rockford woman says she nearly fell victim to a pushy and possibly fraudulent energy salesperson.

Roberta Schaacht, who’s 89 and visually impaired, says the situation unfolded March 14, when a man knocked on her door and told her there may be a problem with her utility bills. He showed her a badge and wasn’t threatening so the widow let him in.

As they sat on her couch, Schaacht says what began as a normal conversation about the price of natural gas and electric, took a slight turn. She said the man asked for her ComEd, Nicor, and other account numbers.

Schaacht says she couldn’t immediately find her bills but wanted to help the man she thought was there to help. She then remembered giving some of her financial paperwork to her tax preparer but forgot where she put the rest.

“I get confused,” Schaact said. “But he was such a nice man.”

Schaact said the man made a speakerphone call to someone who claimed to work for ComEd, and said her account with the electric company would be canceled. She was told the same about Nicor, she said.

“He said I was being overcharged,” she said.

Not certain about what transpired, Schaact called her grandson and showed him paperwork containing handwritten electricity rate information and an illegible badge number belonging to a person named Sam.

“I thought I had done something good,” Schaact said about the potential of saving money.” But then I showed it to my grandson and he said I had been scammed.”

Schaact called ComEd and Nicor the next day and was told neither company had received requests to stop service. Just to be safe, she said her grandson and a friend from church are now in the process of making sure all of her accounts are still in place.

George Gaulrapp, ComEd’s manager of external affairs, says while going to door-to-door selling deregulated energy services is legal, it is common for companies to employ unscrupulous, even fraudulent, contractors who use a variety of unfair tactics to get unsuspecting victims to sign up for their services--some of them without their knowledge.

”These are some of the tricks of the trade,” Gaulrapp said. “(There are) people out there taking advantage of people, especially the elderly.”

Gaulrapp says never give account numbers to anyone. He said ComEd employees will never ask for them.

“We will never ask for them,” he said, “because we already have them.”