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Utility Scam Awareness Week

by on November 20, 2019
More than 140 electric, water and natural gas utilities and their trade associations across the US and Canada are working together to raise awareness of common utility imposter scams.

AEP has joined Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), along with more than 140 electric, water and natural gas utilities and their trade associations across the United States and Canada to help raise awareness of common utility impostor scams.

Utility Scam Awareness Week, Nov. 17-23, will focus on “It Happened to Me, Don’t Let it Happen to You.”

Scammers typically use three tactics – phone, in-person or online – to target the money, property and personal information of electric, natural gas and water utility customers. Some helpful information you will find in the guide includes:

Signs of potential scam activity:   

  • Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made. Typically, the scammer will tell the customer that a disconnection will come within an hour.
  • Demand for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct a customer to purchase a prepaid card. The scammer will ask the customer to return a call for immediate bill payment.
  • Request for prepaid card: When the customer returns the scammer’s call, the scammer asks the customer for the number on the prepaid card. This allows the scammer to gain instant access to the card’s funds.

How customers can protect themselves:

  • Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment, and they always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including online, phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in-person payments.
  • If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill.
  • If customers suspect a scammer, they should double check by calling their local utility and not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 9-1-1.

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