Woman asks 7 Action News for help dealing with a yearlong DTE Energy billing nightmare

Posted at 10:29 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 14:58:10-04

Imagine getting utility bills for several different houses that aren't even yours and calls from bill collectors at all hours of the day.

A Highland Township woman has been dealing with the hassle of it all for nearly a year now.

Cynthia Sharp says she's been getting DTE invoices for five-different houses over the last year. The problem is she only owns one house.

Sharp has been living in her Highland Township home for years, but it wasn't until last September that she started to unravel a utility identity scam that had her name all over it - literally.

She was told there were other properties in her name - two in Detroit, one in Hamtramck and one in Belleville.

"I said those are not my houses,” Sharp says.

She was being billed hundreds of dollars - all of it on her invoice.

She says she tried to fight it with DTE and even got a letter in the mail.

“Here's a document from DTE from June 30th telling me clearly I'm not responsible for the electric and gas usage during the time period in question,” Sharp says.

But still she says her credit took a beating and her phone didn't stop ringing.

They also threatened to shut down her service.

She went to the police, filled out an identity fraud affidavit, called the three major credit card bureaus then reached out to us.

We reached out to DTE right away.

We were told the electric services company has strict measures in place to protect customers' identity when they call in, including verification of multiple security questions.

As for Cynthia's situation, they say it appears her information was purchased through an identity fraud ring, adding all of her information was provided to them for every account that was opened.

They gave us a statement that reads in part:

Our fraud investigation team has been working with Ms. Sharp, investigating the situation and was able to clear her of all responsibility related to all of the fraudulent accounts, including any concerns with recent collections activities.

A DTE spokesperson also told me they have put safeguards in place to make sure none of the fraudulent accounts are associated with Cynthia's name, they have canceled all collections calls and notices, everything has been removed from her billing history and it will not affect her credit history.

They're also providing Cynthia with free credit monitoring, saying they sincerely apologize for what happened.

We are happy we were able to help Cynthia.

Remember identity theft can happen to anyone at anytime, if you're a victim of identity-theft, contact the major credit bureaus and file a report with police and file a complaint with the federal trade commission at call 1-877-ID-THEFT.