FirstEnergy Utilities Ramp Up Scam Awareness Outreach as Part of Utilities United Against Scams Day on Nov. 14
Con artists across the country continue using scare tactics to try and steal money and personal information from utility customers. It’s a problem for utilities as much as for the victims, which is why FirstEnergy and dozens of other electric and gas companies are banding together for Utilities United Against Scams Day on Wednesday, Nov. 14, to #StopScams.
The annual event is organized by Utilities United Against Scams – a group consisting of more than 100 utilities and related organizations – to raise awareness about the ever-growing list of scams targeting utility customers.
"We take our customers' safety and security very seriously," said Gary W. Grant, vice president of customer service for FirstEnergy Utilities. "Scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, like senior citizens or business owners who rely on electric service to run their business and make a living.”
As the temperatures continue to dip this winter, both residential and business customers should be on alert for calls or door-to-door visits from scammers who demand immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Although the scammers work year-round, they are most active in the winter and summer months, when people cannot go without heat or air conditioning.
Last year, FirstEnergy's utilities received 959 reports of scams from customers—more than twice the number of reports received in 2016. The actual number of scam attempts is even higher since most are only reported to law enforcement or go unreported.
With a goal of curbing the number of reported scams among its customers, FirstEnergy in April published an award-winning video, "Hang Up, Don't Pay Up: When a Scammer Calls," featuring two business owners contacted by phone scammers impersonating FirstEnergy electric company employees. The video provides red flags and tips for avoiding scams.
Customers are urged to keep the following tips in mind to help ensure the safety of their family, property and personal information:
- Customers with past-due accounts will receive a written notice of their account status, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service.
- While FirstEnergy representatives oftentimes make courtesy calls to customers to remind them about an outstanding balance, they would explain how a payment can be made using the established payment options. They will not demand payment over the phone or at a particular physical location.
- FirstEnergy field collectors – carrying company-issued photo identification – will offer customers with past-due accounts the opportunity to pay their bill in person before shutting them off. This does not apply to Pennsylvania customers.
- FirstEnergy does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment, and their representatives will not demand bank or credit card information over the phone.
- Customers who suspect a scam should hang up the phone/close the door, and call the local police then FirstEnergy. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
"We encourage customers to contact us directly using the phone number listed on our website and on their billing statement if they need to verify the status of their electric account or the confirm the identity of a FirstEnergy employee," said Grant. "When in doubt, always give us a call."
Please share this information with friends and family to continue raising awareness of these crimes, and periodically visit firstenergycorp.com/scaminfo to check for updates on emerging scam activity.
MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Siburkis, (330) 203-8850