Known scams that have targeted our customers can be found below. These descriptions can help you understand how criminals target utility customers.

We encourage you to help make friends and family aware of risks and common scams, and revisit this site periodically to check for updates on emerging scam activity.  

Customers who suspect they are being scammed should report the crime to FirstEnergy and to local authorities.   

Power Shut Off Scams

Utility Imposters

Bogus Fees for Equipment or Repairs

Other Scams


Power Shut Off Scams 

 Caller demands immediate payment 

AKA: Pre-Paid Debit Card Payment Scam, Green Dot, Money Gram or Western Union scam

In this widespread scam, which frequently targets small businesses, a telephone caller poses as an electric utility company employee. The caller threatens to shut off the customer’s power unless an immediate payment is made. In many cases, the customer is told to use a pre-paid debit card, such as a Green Dot/MoneyPak card, or a money transfer service like Money Gram or Western Union. In at least one case, the victim was directed to pay in person at a physical location.  

The facts:

  • If your account is past due, you will receive a written notice of your account status, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service.  
  • While our representative may call a customer whose bill is in arrears in order to remind them that a payment is due, the representative would explain how a payment can be made using our established payment options. They will not demand payment over the phone or at a particular physical location.
  • Our utilities do not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment, and our representatives will not demand your bank information or credit card number over the phone. 

What should you do:

  • If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately. 
  • Be aware that scammers often use Caller ID spoofing software to misrepresent the source of a phone call, or provide you with a fake "verification" phone number. These call-back numbers may even include exact replicas of company greetings and hold messaging. If you would like to verify your account status, always call our Customer Service department using the numbers on our website, or log in to your account on our website.  
  • If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, please contact your local police department or your state attorney general’s office.
  • If you have purchased a Green Dot card to pay your electric bill and would like to request a refund from Green Dot/MoneyPak, visit www.moneypak.com/refundrequest.aspx.*

    *FirstEnergy is not affiliated with Green Dot Corporations and is not responsible for any refunds associated with Green Dot Card purchases. Any questions regarding the MoneyPak Refund Request should be directed to Green Dot Corporations. 

 

 Email demands immediate payment

Some U.S. utility customers have reported receiving an email message demanding immediate payment of the bill to avoid disconnection of power. The email may mimic the format used by the legitimate utility. 

The facts:

  • FirstEnergy utility customers who are behind on their accounts will receive written notice of their account status, delivered to the residence, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service.  
  • While our representative may call a customer whose bill is in arrears in order to remind them that a payment is due, the representative would explain how a payment can be made using our established payment options
  • Our utilities do not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment, and our representatives will not request your bank information or credit card number over the phone or via email. 

What you should do:

  • If you receive an email that looks different than your normal utility bill, is from a different utility company, or includes a request for personal information, delete the email immediately.  
  • Do not click on links or attachments in any email unless you have verified the sender. It is a best practice to enter a company’s website address manually, rather than clicking a link.
  • If you receive a suspicious email, you can contact your utility’s Customer Service department using the phone numbers or email submission forms on our website, to verify the status of your account. You can also log in to your account to check your account status. 
  • If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, please contact your local police department or your state attorney general’s office.

Utility Imposters


Criminals posing as door-to-door sales or service people

In this scam, individuals go door-to-door, claiming to be affiliated with one of FirstEnergy’s utility companies or competitive subsidiaries. The scam artists often work in pairs, are very persistent, and use a variety of excuses to gain access to your home. In some cases, once access is gained and/or you are distracted outside, one or both members of the team robs the home. These criminals often distract victims by requesting a copy of the resident's utility bill, allegedly to "see if you're getting the lowest rate."

The facts:

  • These individuals do not represent FirstEnergy, our utilities, or subsidiaries. Our utility employees do not solicit door-to-door, and they would not ask you to provide a copy of your electric bill.
  • While some third-party generation suppliers may use door-to-door sales tactics, they should represent themselves as such; not as affiliates of our company.

What you should do:

  • Do not allow these individuals into your home, and do not provide them with your utility bill or other personal information.
  • Report them to your local law enforcement authorities.

 

Individuals canvasing door-to-door to collect information

Customers have reported that individuals are knocking on doors late in the evening, posing as contractors affiliated with one of FirstEnergy’s utility companies. They claim to be hired by the utility company to record the size of the meter and fuse box within the house. 

The facts:

  • These individuals do not represent FirstEnergy, our utilities, or contractors. 
  • Our utility companies are not conducting door-to-door surveys of meters or fuse boxes. 
  • If a utility employee or authorized contractor needs access to your home, an appointment will be scheduled in advance, and proper identification will be provided for your review.

What you should do:

  • Do not allow these individuals into your home for any reason. 
  • Report them to your local law enforcement authorities.

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Bogus Fees For Equipment or Repairs


 Equipment charge scam

Commercial Customers have reported receiving phone calls demanding a separate payment to replace an electric meter at their facility.

The facts:

  • In most cases, we become aware of issues with meters or other electrical equipment after a customer reports it to us.
  • When we do replace a customer’s meter, we will typically contact them ahead of time as a courtesy.
  • If there is a charge related to work on customer-owned equipment, these are included in the customer’s monthly bill. FirstEnergy does not collect a separate payment for equipment or installation.
  • If a meter socket needs repaired, we will notify the customer, however our employees will not complete the work on this customer-owned equipment.

What you should do:

  • Do not provide any money or personal information to the caller. Report the scam to local authorities and FirstEnergy.
  • If you have questions or concerns, contact us to verify the status of your account.

 

 Smart meter installation and equipment scam

Customers have reported receiving phone calls demanding a separate payment for installation of smart meter equipment and/or installation. The caller, who may claim to be from a FirstEnergy utility, threatens to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made.

The facts:

  • FirstEnergy’s electric companies are currently installing smart meters on homes and businesses in Pennsylvania. These charges are included in the customer’s monthly bill. FirstEnergy does not collect a separate payment for smart meter equipment or installation.
  • Be aware that scammers often use Caller ID spoofing software to misrepresent the source of a phone call, or provide a fake "verification" phone number. These call-back numbers may even include exact replicas of company greetings and hold messaging. 
  • The company is not currently installing smart meters on homes or business in the other states our utilities serve, and we do not have plans for full smart meter deployment in those areas at this time.

What you should do:

 

 Power restoration in exchange for payment scam

Utility customers affected by a power outage have been asked to pay to have their power restored.

Utility customers have reported scams in the aftermath of severe storms that cause widespread power outages. An individual claiming to be an employee of the utility company requests upfront payment in return for restoring a homeowner’s power.

The facts:

  • FirstEnergy and its utilities will never require payment to restore power.
  • If repairs to customer-owned equipment are necessary before service can be restored, our representatives will advise you to have the work done by a licensed contractor.
  • If a charge is ever applicable, you will be billed through your account.

What you should do:

  • If someone offers to restore your service in return for a cash payment, this is a scam. If someone shows up at your house unexpectedly and claims to work for our company, call the company using the numbers listed on our website and confirm that it authorized the person to visit your home.
  • If you have questions or concerns, contact us.

Other Scams


  Federal program to pay electric bills

A nationwide scam claims that a “special federal program” can help pay customer utility bills.  Scam victims have been recruited by individuals going door-to-door, making phone calls, posting fliers and using email, text-messaging and social media.

In this scam, customers have been asked to provide sensitive information, such as social security numbers, which presents an identity-theft risk. Theives then supply customers with a phony bank routing number to pay their bills.  

The facts:

  • There is no such federal program, and money collected by these criminals is not applied to customer utility accounts.
  • No government dollars are applied to customer accounts, and the full balance remains due.

What you should do:

  • Do not reply to electronic messages if you are not sure of the sender. 
  • Notify local police if you believe you are a victim of this fraudulent scheme.
  • If you need assistance paying your electric bill, please review authorized bill assistance programs.
 

  Fraudulent employment listings

Scammers are posting spoofed employment listings on legitimate job-search websites.

Job-seekers have reported a scam in which criminals are mimicking elements of legitimate job postings. After candidates apply for a job -- a process that potentially provides the scammer with personal data -- an interview is set up via online chat. Later, the scammer offers the candidate the job, and provides the victim with a fraudulent check for the purchase of equipment necessary for a home office. The individuals are directed to purchase expensive office equipment at a website designated by the scammer, providing the scammer with the victim's credit card information. The checks are then rejected by the scam victims’ banks. 

The facts:

  • Victims of this scam have reported that the compensation was listed on the spoofed online job postings, and it was much higher than market average. While FirstEnergy does post job openings on many popular online career boards, we do not include detailed information about salary or hourly rates. This is discussed later in the interview process.  
  • FirstEnergy will not request that candidates communicate with the company’s recruiters via online chat or forum. Interviews are conducted on the phone and/or in person.
  • FirstEnergy recruiters may contact candidates via LinkedIn or other online job sites. When this occurs, the candidate would be contacted directly through the website. When conducting email communications, FirstEnergy recruiters will only contact candidates from a firstenergycorp.com email address. Our recruiters do not use Gmail or other email services.
  • While many different names could be used by a scammer, "Sharronda Robert" has been used in many reported cases. 
  • FirstEnergy does not ask new employees to purchase their own office equipment or software.
  • FirstEnergy does not issue checks to new employees. Additionally, in this scam, the checks are issued from fraudulent banks or credit unions, not from a FirstEnergy account.
  • Be aware that scammers may use spoofing software to misrepresent the source of a phone call or email, or provide fake "verification" contact information. 

What you should do:

  • If you are researching jobs on a third-party job website, verify the authenticity of the posting by visiting FirstEnergy’s own online career board at www.firstenergycorp.com/careers. You can also contact FirstEnergy’s Human Resources department at FirstEnergyHR@firstenergycorp.com.
  • If you are asked to participate in an interview via online chat, this is not FirstEnergy. Stop communicating with the individual immediately. Report the scam to local authorities and FirstEnergy.
  • Notify the website where the posting was listed. Many job websites give you the ability to report fraudulent postings directly through the website. 
Last Modified: November 15, 2016