“Utilities United Against Scams Day” helps raise awareness and provides customers with essential information to fight back!
Pepco has joined forces, for the second year in a row, with electric and natural gas utility companies across the United States and Canada to help provide essential information that can help utility customers avoid being scammed. Pepco, and the other Exelon utilities, Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power and PECO are committed to educating customers and putting a stop to scamming.
The collaborating energy companies have joined together again this year and designated Nov. 15 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” This day will be supported by a week-long campaign with content, online and on social media channels, focused on exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers, and how customers can protect themselves. The effort, which includes utility member organizations such as Edison Electric Institute and American Gas Association, encourages utilities to share these messages to help guard against scam activity.
“As a company, it is critical that we assist our customers by providing important information that will help to protect them from scamming efforts, said Donna Cooper, Pepco region president. “We all have a collective role in helping to advance safeguards that can prevent this escalated activity from being successful.”
When being scammed, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a utility representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s service will be shut off if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card.
Scammers have even duplicated the upfront Interactive Voice Response system of some utilities, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate business. Some of these scammers also use caller ID “spoofing” to replicate a utility’s phone number.
Red flags for scam activity
- The scammer often becomes angry and tells a customer his or her account is past due and service will be shut off if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
- The scammer instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card – widely available at most retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.
The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the funds loaded to the card.
How to protect customers
- Utility representatives 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 with the regular monthly billing – 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 Pepco at 202-833-7500. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
Don’t Get Scammed: Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:
- Never provide social security or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than your local utility providers.
- Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business.
- When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
- Never make payment for services to anyone coming to the door.
Any Pepco customer who believes he or she has been a target of a scam is urged to contact their local police, and call the company immediately at 202-833-7500 to report the situation.
Readers are encouraged to visit The Source, Pepco’s online news room. Find additional information about Pepco by visiting pepco.com. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/pepcoconnect and on Twitter at twitter.com/pepcoconnect. Our mobile app is available at pepco.com/mobileapp.