Writting today to ensure that your hard earned money stays in your pocket, not some two-bit criminals pocket.
Below is a press release from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. Personally, I am glad this persistent scam has garnered the attention of EEI, perhaps a bigger hammer on the necks of the the thieves will slow down or stop their shady operations.
One of the most common types of utility scams involves customers receiving unsolicited telephone, electronic, or in-person communications from an individual claiming to be a utility company representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s electric or other utility service will be disconnected if the customer fails to make an immediate payment – typically using a reloadable debit card or other non-traceable form of payment.
Complicating matters, these scammers often employ authentic-seeming phone numbers, graphics, uniforms, and other materials.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
The supposed utility representative becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
The caller instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back supposedly to make a payment to their utility.
The caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
Utilities will never ask or require a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.
Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification included with their regular monthly bill – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police then your utility. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
The coalition encourages customers to share these messages in their communities to help spread awareness about how to guard against scam activity.
Customers who suspect that they have been the victim of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local authorities and then their utility. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how you can protect your personal information.