PECO Urges Customers to Be Aware of Scams During Holiday Season

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.

Final Holiday Travel before REAL ID required

PennDOT, TSA: Final Holiday Travel Season Before Federal REAL ID Enforcement
Federal enforcement will begin October 1, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – At an event at the Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) today, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), along with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), reminded Pennsylvanians who want to continue using their driver’s license or photo ID card as identification to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility to upgrade it to a REAL ID-compliant version before federal enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins on October 1, 2020.

“The holidays are approaching, and so many of us look forward to visiting family and friends,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers. “This is the last holiday travel season before REAL ID enforcement begins, and we encourage our customers who are considering upgrading their license or ID card to take care of it sooner rather than later.”

Beginning October 1, 2020,a federally-accepted form of identification (whether it’s a Pennsylvania REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, a military ID, etc.) must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires ID at the door. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards have been available at the customer’s option since March 2019, and to date, more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians have chosen to get a REAL ID-compliant product. Based on data from other states with optional REAL ID programs, PennDOT anticipates that approximately 1.3 million of its customers will get a REAL ID before the federal enforcement deadline of October 1, 2020.

Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify the below documents:

  • Proof of Identity: Examples include original or certified copy of a birth certificate filed with the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics with a raised seal/embossed or valid, unexpired, U.S. Passport;
  • Proof of Social Security Number:  Social security card, in current legal name;
  • Two Proofs of Current, Physical PA Address: Examples include a current, unexpired PA driver’s license or identification card, vehicle registration or a utility bill with the same name and address; and
  • Proof of all Legal Name Changes (if current legal name is different than what is reflected on proof of identity document): Examples include a certified marriage certificate(s) issued by the County Court for each marriage, court order(s) approving a change in legal name or amended birth certificate issued by the State Office of Vital Records/Statistics. If current name is the same as what is reflected on proof of identity document (usually birth certificate or passport), a customer does not need to show proof of legal name changes.

Customers can bring the required documents to any PennDOT Driver License Center. More info about document requirements, including a printable document checklist, can be found on the Document Check page of the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and information on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.

 

Household Hazardous Waste Collection October 12

The Chester County Recycling Coordinator, Nancy Fromnick, announced the last Chester County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event for Chester County residents on Saturday, October 12 at the Government Services Center, 601 Westtown Road, West Chester, PA 19380. The collection site will be open at 9:00 AM and will close at 3:00 PM sharp.

This event is not for businesses and contractors.

No more than 220 pounds or 25 gallons of Hazardous Products per household will be accepted. Hazardous cleaning and maintenance products will have the following cautionary words on the label: poisonous, caustic, toxic, flammable, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, caution, warning, danger or hazardous. Many items, such as fertilizer or cleaning products, should be used as they were designed to be used and do not need to be treated as hazardous waste.

Unacceptable materials are latex paint, used motor oil, tires, asbestos, explosives, gas cylinders, household alkaline batteries, PCBs, medical waste, unidentified waste, commercial and industrial waste, ammunition and appliances containing Freon or liquids in 55 gallon drums.

 LATEX PAINT IS NOT HAZARDOUS WASTE!  Residents should not bring latex paint to Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events. Solidify latex paint by either air drying small quantities or pouring the paint into a plastic trash bag with sawdust, clay-based kitty litter, rags or saw dust and placing the bag and the opened can in the trash. Oil-based paint should be brought to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event.

Attendees should be prepared to take back their corrugated boxes to be recycled at the curb and Styrofoam and/or trash to be put in their curbside trash containers.

Interested residents can visit www.chestercountyswa.org or call their municipality or the Chester County Solid Waste Authority at 610-273-3771 ext. *228 for information on how to properly handle unacceptable materials and for the other regional collection events scheduled.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection: June 21

For the eleventh time since the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program began in 1998, Chester County municipalities are hosting a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event for Chester County residents on a FRIDAY.  The Friday, June 21 event will be held at the Coatesville Learning Center, 1635 East Lincoln Highway, Coatesville, PA 19320-2459 (Entrance across from the Dairy Queen). The collection site will be open at 9:00 AM and will close at 3:00 PM sharp.

This collection is not for businesses or contractors. NO   ELECTRONICS, TV’S OR APPLIANCES WILL BE ACCEPTED. NO ITEMS CONTAINING FREON WILL BE ACCEPTED.

No more than 220 pounds or 25 gallons of hazardous products per household will be accepted. Hazardous cleaning and maintenance products will have the following cautionary words on the label: poisonous, caustic, toxic, flammable, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, caution, warning, danger or hazardous.  Businesses and contractors will be turned away.

Unacceptable materials are latex paint, used motor oil, tires, asbestos, explosives, gas cylinders, alkaline batteries, PCBs, medical waste, unidentified waste, commercial and industrial, explosives, ammunition and appliances containing Freon.

 

Mysteries of Medicare:  What are the different parts of Medicare?

APPRISE is Pennsylvania’s statewide program of Medicare counseling under the auspices of the Chester County Department of Aging in Chester County.  This newsletter from the APPRISE program will help you understand what each of the parts of Medicare provides.

The four parts of Medicare are:

Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for medically necessary inpatient hospital care, inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility, home health care and hospice care. The Part A premium is free if you have worked ten years (40 quarters) and paid your FICA (Medicare) taxes.

Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for medically necessary doctors’ services, outpatient services and other medical services and supplies that are not covered by Part A.  There is a monthly premium for Part B.

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, covers all Medicare Part A and Part B services and may offer other services such as vison and dental assistance. Most Part C plans include prescription drugs.  Premiums for Part C vary and most plans have co-pays when you receive medical services.

Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage for those not enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan.  There is a monthly premium for Part D.

Trained APPRISE counselors meet with Medicare beneficiaries to help explain Medicare programs and enrollment.  You can contact APPRISE to schedule a free, confidential meeting with a counselor with any Medicare questions by calling any of the county senior centers or the APPRISE Helpline 610-344-5004 to leave a message.  You can also email us at apprisechesco@outlook.com.   Visit our website at http://www.chesco.org/477/Apprise-Health-Insurance-Counseling.