National Scam Awareness Week is November 17-23, which seeks to raise awareness and provide customers with essential information to fight back and protect themselves.
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — With the holiday season quickly approaching, PECO is reminding customers to always be on alert for potential payment scams targeting utility customers. Scams occur throughout the year, but the company has seen an increase in scam reports during the holiday season. With holiday shopping and family gatherings planned, scammers are using the holiday season to trick utility customers into providing their personal or financial information and making false payments under the pretense of keeping their service active.
PECO is joining more than 100 utility companies across the United States and Canada in the effort to protect customers from scams targeting customers of electric, natural gas, water, and other utilities. Collaborating companies have joined together for a fourth year and designated November 20 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of the week-long National Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers. PECO and its sister Exelon companies, Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, and Pepco are committed to educating customers and putting a stop to scamming.
“The personal and financial safety and security of our customers and their information is our top priority,” said John McDonald, PECO senior vice president and COO. “We want to provide our customers with information that can help protect them from scamming attempts and we won’t stop until every customer can feel safe about who is on the other end of the line, or on the other side of the door.”
When scams occur, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual, who falsely claims to be a company representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s service will be terminated if they fail to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card or other direct payment method.
Scammers have even duplicated the telephone systems of some companies, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate business. Some 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 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 yourself
- Utility representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
- Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail, or in-person.
- Customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If a customer ever questions the legitimacy of the call, they should hang up and call PECO directly at 1-800-494-4000.
Don’t Get Scammed: Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:
- Never provide your social security number 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.
- Never make a payment for services to anyone coming to your door.
Any PECO customer who believes he or she has been a target of a scam is urged to contact their local police, and call PECO immediately at 1-800-494-4000 to report the situation.
PECO, founded in 1881, is Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PECO delivers energy to more than 1.6 million electric customers and more than 529,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. The company’s 2,700 employees are dedicated to the safe and reliable delivery of electricity and natural gas as well as enhanced energy management conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. In 2018, PECO was named to Forbes Magazine’s list of Best Employers for Women. The company also has an estimated annual economic impact of $4.8 billion in Pennsylvania, supporting more than 9,000 local jobs and producing $775 million in labor income. PECO is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation’s only Fortune 100 utility and leading competitive energy provider. For more information visit PECO.com, and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.