Slamming is the practice of a telephone company switching you to their service through deception. Though not as common as it once was, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says the practice has been adopted in his state by utility companies.

Blumenthal has warned consumers to be suspicious of any unexpected solicitation callers or visitors claiming to represent Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P;) and offering to lower electric rates. He says the solicitors may actually be representatives of competing suppliers seeking to switch consumers, without proper consent, by accessing their utility account information.

A consumer recently reported an incident to Blumenthals office in which she received a call from someone claiming to be from CL&P; stating that they could reduce her electric bill. The caller requested her account number to make the switch. The marketer provided his CL&P; badge number as proof and a number to reach him, which turned out to bea New Jersey number.

The consumer hung up without providing the information and then looked up and called CL&Ps; legitimate number to confirm the caller was not associated with CL&P.;

Blumenthal said the call is similar to recent door-to-door solicitations by people claiming to represent CL&P.; The solicitors typically offer to switch the consumers electric supplier or otherwise lower the consumers bill.

Code of conduct

Blumenthal said the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) is currently conducting a code of conduct proceeding to set new rules for suppliers and aggregators -- including assurances that sales representatives dont mislead consumers.

These callers and visitors make flagrantly false claims about what company they represent -- and then use personal account information to surreptitiously switch a consumers supplier without their consent, Blumenthal said. The lesson from this scheme is the same as all others -- never provide private information to unsolicited or unknown callers or visitors. Protect your private information fiercely, even when offers claim to come from legitimate sources -- including companies in which you have ongoing business relationships.

Blumenthal reiterated recent warnings by utility companies that consumers should know or do the following if they receive such solicitations:

• Hang up the phone or decline a door-to-door offer, even if the caller claims some form of proof, such as a badge number from the utility company. Call the company directly -- using the number on your bill or from the phone book -- to confirm any offers.

• Never provide personal financial information to any unsolicited caller or visitor, even if the caller seems legitimate.

• Report the incident to local police.

• Remember that CL&P; does not conduct such solicitation calls or visits.