Oneida homeowners are being approached by door-to-door salespeople claiming to be from National Grid. City officials are telling residents to call police if they encounter any of these individuals.

Why? It could be a scam.

A few years ago, a stranger showed up at my apartment and claimed to be from National Grid. They wanted me to let them inside so we could talk energy options and ways to reduce my utility bill.

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Considering I was renting and installing solar panels was outright banned per my rental agreement, I turned them away and, boy, did they need a lot of convincing. It was deeply uncomfortable because my gut was screaming at me that something wasn't right about this "salesperson".

After they left, I called National Grid about the interaction and was told that person was, indeed, a scammer.

MCCAIG from Getty Images Signature
MCCAIG from Getty Images Signature

I am sharing this story because residents in Oneida are currently being targeted by a possible solar scammer. Group members of the Oneida for Change Facebook page began warning others about a recent interaction with a gentleman claiming to be from National Grid.

The individual or individuals have allegedly been asking residents why they haven't signed up for solar.

Sandra LaPera, City Clerk of Oneida, caught wind of what was happening and issued a warning to residents on Wednesday, April 24.

"Anyone selling anything door to door in Oneida must have a permit. If you encounter any of these people, please let the police know," she warned on her official Facebook page.

Why These Individuals Are Likely Scammers

According to residents, the alleged salespeople are still in town, which is troubling local leaders. It is more than likely these people are trying to take advantage of vulnerable residents.

National Grid has also spoken out about this growing scam and is urging customers to stay away from these solicitors.

"National Grid never engages in door-to-door solicitation," the company said in a statement. National Grid said scam artists pose as representatives of the company in hopes of stealing your personal information.

The energy company said you should never provide your account number or copy of your utility bill, as these individuals in Oneida are attempting to do.

Scammers, possibly like those canvassing Oneida, try to lure unsuspecting victims into handing over their sensitive information under the guise of switching to solar or reducing your rates. National Grid also warns against signing any documents.

sturti from Getty Images Signature
sturti from Getty Images Signature

National Grid says if an individual like that comes to your door, ask to see the person's ID to verify their name and employment before engaging any further. The company says you can close the door and contact the company directly at 800-642-4272 to inquire about the individual as an added security measure.

A red flag, as with this recent situation in Oneida, is the alleged salesperson was not in uniform. National Grid says employees have to "wear visible photo identification cards with a visible logo." The possible solar scammer was said to be wearing a blue puffer jacket and a Lakers hat.

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National Grid says if you ever feel uncomfortable or like you're in danger, close and lock your door, stay inside, and call 911 immediately.

Oneida City Clerk LaPera is urging beyond that and is requesting residents contact police if these individuals approach their home. To even engage in solicitation, per LaPera, the individual must obtain the proper permit.

If you happen to fall for one of these scams, National Grid encourages you to "call your local law enforcements officials and the Attorney General’s office immediately."

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

PPM Solar recently came out with a lengthy article about identifying possible door-to-door scammers and how they manipulate people. PPM said common targets include elderly and retired folks as well as those who would be interested in saving money or rebates.

If you are interested in solar, it is best to do your research to identify a legitimate company and work with them directly. It is also advised to get multiple quotes so you can settle on the best offer and option.

Stay safe and watch out for door-to-door scammers, CNY!

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