New Jersey officials have filed civil complaints against three energy suppliers: Palmco, HIKO Energy and Systrum Energy, for allegedly engaging in false and deceptive marketing practices, and promising customers that their rates would go down.

(ThinkStock)

According to State Attorney General John Hoffman, not only did the rates not drop, they actually increased significantly.

During a Trenton news conference, Hoffman said other energy suppliers need to make sure they are doing everything above board.

"All third party energy suppliers are required to follow New Jersey's laws and to act in good faith," Hoffman said. "When they fail to do so, we will take appropriate and aggressive action. These companies need to be held accountable, and consumers need to be protected."

New Jersey Consumer Affairs Director Steve Lee said state residents need to be informed consumers when thinking about changing energy suppliers.

"Consumers shouldn't rush into making a decision about energy," Lee said. "They should be skeptical when something seems too good to be true.

Before switching suppliers, Lee recommends that residents contact the BPU to learn whether the energy supplier is licensed to do business in New Jersey. He said New Jerseyans should also find out if the company has been the subject of consumer complaints.

(David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

"Consumers should also get savings offers and contract terms in writing. Consumers should read everything, especially contracts thoroughly before making a decision to switch," he said. "Consumers must make sure they understand all terms, even complicated ones, before making a decision."

Diane Solomon, president of the BPU said the tactics of some energy suppliers, "and the lack of transparency in their agreements- are troubling, but it should not cause consumer reluctance to participate in the potential benefits offered by alternative energy suppliers."

She said the BPU continues to work on creating an alternate energy supplier webpage, so consumers can compare plans and rates in an easy to understand format- and the site should be up and running by the end of the year.