(TRENTON) – Under current law, residents in New Jersey are allowed to switch energy suppliers over the phone leaving many vulnerable to “bad actors”. A bad actor is an energy service supplier who takes advantage of the deregulated market and tricks residents into signing contracts over the phone. Some of these suppliers have low initial rates that increase dramatically over time. To ensure that those who are choosing an electric or gas supplier do not get taken advantage of, Assembly Democrats Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) and Daniel Benson (Mercer, Middlesex) sponsor legislation approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee to remove all electronic verification options from the current statute.
The bill (A-4569) would only allow an energy supplier to provide or renew electric or gas services after receiving a written signature.
Upon committee approval of the measure, Reynolds-Jackson and Benson issued the following joint statement:
“Under the current statute, an automated phone call is sufficient enough for someone to change energy suppliers. We must do all we can to help protect the public from paying high prices and rates that were unforeseeable. This bill will ensure that the energy service suppliers are not deceiving anyone over the phone to pay much higher prices than they should.
“The elderly are more vulnerable to phone fraud and scams. Unscrupulous service suppliers are aware of this and trick residents into signing contracts. By only allowing written signatures, we can give people a better opportunity to compare prices and choose the service that works best for them.”