CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (November 20, 2019) – AEP Texas has joined Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to recognize the fourth annual Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, November 20. Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of the weeklong National Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers. This year’s theme is “It Happened to Me, Don’t Let it Happen to You.”
“Scammers are targeting local businesses, senior citizens and customers and asking for an immediate payment or their power will be disconnected,” said Julio Reyes, AEP Texas vice president of External Affairs. “In some cases, they may even leave a call back number. If called, the response often is a very close impersonation of the AEP Customer Operations Center calls.”
Reyes noted that there here have been reports of individuals either calling or going door-to-door telling residents or businesses that their electric meter needs to be changed out and asking for payment to complete the process. He urged customers contacted or approached to contact their Retail Electric Provider to verify the request. The correct phone number is shown on the monthly electricity bill. Calling a number left on phone message may connect the caller with the scammer—not the Retail Electric Provider.
“While we cannot speak for the Retail Electric Providers (REPs), AEP Texas employees will never proactively contact a customer demanding an immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card or ask a customer to meet us in a parking lot to make a payment,” Reyes continued.
UUAS, a consortium of more than 140 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
“While our Utilities United Against Scams consortium has made significant progress during our four years of work to educate and protect customers, the criminals targeting our communities continuously adapt and occasionally fool even the most sophisticated customers. While it is heartbreaking to hear from individuals and businesses who have lost money to scammers, we appreciate their willingness to share their experiences so that others might not fall victim,” said Jared Lawrence, vice president of customer operations at Duke Energy, and UUAS founder and executive committee chair.
"Utilities United Against Scams wants to stress that anyone from small business owner to senior citizen can fall victim to a utility imposter scam, in fact roughly 60 percent of scams reported to our members are from business customers,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez, who was a former regulator at the Michigan Public Service Commission. “Education is the best way to stop these fraudulent scams."
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact their local utility company or law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other information regarding impostor scams.
Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips on how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, and follow along with UUAS on Twitter and Facebook.
AEP Texas serves nearly a million electricity consumers in the deregulated Texas marketplace. As an energy delivery (wires) company, AEP Texas delivers electricity safely and reliably to homes, businesses and industry across its nearly 100,000 square mile service territory in south and west Texas. AEP Texas also builds new power lines, restores service following outages and records electric usage using advanced meters for retail electric providers (REPs) throughout its service territory. The company also connects or disconnects service upon the orders of the REPs.
Contact: Larry Jones
AEP Texas Corporate Communications