SHREVEPORT, La., – Southwestern Electric Power Co., a member of the award-winning Utilities United Against Scams, is continuing its efforts to remind customers of the tactics scammers use to steal money from customers and to educate them on how they can guard against falling victim to impostor utility scams.
UUAS, a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian electric, water and natural gas companies and their respective trade associations, continues to raise awareness of utility scams targeting customers. The third annual Utility Scam Awareness Day will be held Wednesday, November 14, and is supported by a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign focused on exposing the tactics of scammers.
“Scammers frequently target local businesses, senior citizens and customers whose native language is not English,” said Malcolm Smoak, president & COO. “It’s important for our customers to protect themselves from scammers, especially as we enter the Christmas season. SWEPCO employees will ever demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card or ask a customer to meet us in the parking lot to make a payment.”
UUAS’ Utility Scam Awareness Week campaign, highlighting “7 Scams in 7 Days,” is being held Nov. 11–17.
“To better protect customers, it is critically important we continue to raise awareness and to educate customers about scams,” said Duke Energy’s Vice President of Customer Operations for Piedmont Natural Gas and Metering Services and UUAS Chairman Jared Lawrence. “Scammers are developing increasingly sophisticated schemes to take advantage of customers. Through the ‘7 Scams in 7 Days’ campaign, UUAS will highlight the most common scam tactics and provide resources to help utility customers better protect themselves from utility impostor scammers.”
UUAS and its member companies have helped to shut down more than 2,200 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers. The group recently was awarded the Toll-Free Industry’s Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaign to stop scams that target electric, water, and natural gas company customers. UUAS was presented the award on Oct. 10 at the Toll-Free User Summit hosted by Somos, Inc., in Las Vegas.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers should contact SWEPCO immediately at 1-888-216-3523 or 911. Also, customers should never purchase a prepaid debit card or gift card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate 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 accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
If someone calls, texts, appears, or emails saying you have to pay your bill immediately to avoid disconnection, tell them you would like to verify that they are a legitimate utility company representative by calling a verified number for the utility company found on the company’s website or on your monthly bill. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information and to educate yourself on the different types of impostor scams.
Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, or follow along on social media: Twitter @U_U_A_S and Facebook @UtilitiesUnited.