Electric Utilities Release Tips to Avoid Scams
By West Kentucky Star Staff
WESTERN KENTUCKY - Area electric utilities are urging customers to be careful to avoid potential scams.

Scammers often call and use an urgent tone, warning victims that their electricity is about to be disconnected if they don't pay immediately. The calls may come during peak hours and rush times when people are more likely to be distracted. In a panic, many people reportedly provide credit card information to try and resolve the situation.

"Our members are very important to us," said Dennis Cannon, President and CEO of Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation. "We want to do everything in our power to make sure that they are not taken advantage of by someone pretending to be their local electric cooperative."

Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation, along with Paducah Power Systems and West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative are trying to educate residents on Utility Scam Awareness Day, which is Nov. 15. 

"Our goal is to protect our members from falling victim to payment scams and we believe awareness is the key," said David Smart, West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative President and CEO. "We urge everyone to be prepared, and recommend they hang up and call their utility if they have any concerns."

According to Paducah Power System General Manager, Dave Carroll, utility scams are a regular occurrence in western Kentucky. 

"We get calls about this from customers every few weeks, and scammers often use technology to make our phone number appear on the Call ID screen when contacting potential victims," he said.

The following tips can help customers avoid potential scams:

Generally, if utilities call customers concerning payment for a past due balance, payment is taken at the utility office or on the utility's website. If you receive a call from someone reporting to be from your utility and demanding immediate payment, do not give out your personal or banking information. Simply hang up and call your electric provider directly to check the status of your account

When making online payments to your electric provider, always double-check to ensure that you are on the correct website before submitting credit card information. 
If you see someone on your property or someone knocks on your door claiming to be from your electric provider, ask them to wait while you call the company directly to verify their intent.

Don't always trust your caller ID. With the rise in spoofing technology, never assume that someone calling from a number that looks like your electric provider is legitimate. 

Utilities will not ask customers to use unusual payment methods. Never wire money or put money onto a prepaid card of any kind, even if those are the directions of the representative calling.
Tell your family and friends about scammers' tactics that you've heard about and how to avoid them. Sharing information is the best way to ensure that no one is taken advantage of by a scam.

Report a suspicious call or visit immediately to your local authorities and to your local electric provider.

Additional tips and information can be found by visiting your local electric provider's website. Utility Scam Awareness Day was designated by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016.

Published 01:06 AM, Wednesday Nov. 15, 2017
Updated 09:05 PM, Tuesday Nov. 14, 2017

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