Police urge Edmontonians to close the door on energy scams

Door-to-door salespeople are still trying to sell Albertans furnaces, water heaters and electricity contracts, despite a government ban on the practice, Edmonton police said Thursday.

Police received about 195 reports concerning fraudulent door-to-door sales in 2016, and to date in 2017, 19 complaints have been filed.

Of those complaints, 95 were related to furnace inspections and five concerned energy contracts, police said in a news release.

'Misleading claims and outright scams'

"Police receive frequent door-to-door sales complaints involving aggressive individuals and high-pressure tactics," Det. Linda Herczeg with the EPS Economic Crimes Section said in a statement.

"These also include reports of suspicious people attempting to push their way into homes with misleading claims and outright scams."

Effective Jan. 1, the government banned door-to-door sales of furnaces, water heaters, windows, air conditioners, energy audits and natural gas and electricity energy contracts.

Penalties for companies that don't comply include a fine of up to $300,000 or up to two years' imprisonment under the Fair Trading Act.

However, there continue to be reports of salespeople misrepresenting themselves to get into people's houses, police said.

'It didn't feel right'

Over the course of three months Nick Malychuk, who lives in Edmonton's Greenfield neighbourhood, was contacted three times by fraudulent energy companies, even after the ban came into effect.

"They wanted to inspect our furnace and water heater, see if we qualified for a carbon tax rebate, and even called my wife from the front step to get her to open the door and sign a contract," Malychuk said in a statement.  

"It didn't feel right, we told them 'No,' but when we were contacted after the new government legislation came into effect we decided to call police."

Police are urging consumers to check company credentials and report any suspicious activity to them. 

"While most door-to-door sales are legitimate, there are con artists and thieves who want to take advantage of an open door," Herczeg said.