Delmarva Power is joining more than 100 energy 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. Delmarva Power and its sister Exelon companies, Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, PECO, and Pepco, are joining up to help stop scamming.
Collaborating energy companies have joined together for a third year and designated Nov. 14 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” This day is supported by a week-long campaign, including social media and online content, focused on exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers, and how customers can protect themselves.
“This type of coordinated teamwork is vital for the safety and well-being of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Mike Poncia, vice president of Customer Operations for Pepco Holdings, which includes Delmarva Power. “We can help provide our customers with the tools they need to guard against scammers and imposters who may be on the other end of the line or other side of the door by sharing these essential tips and information throughout the region.”
When being scammed, 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 shut off if they fail to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card.
Scammers have even duplicated the upfront Interactive Voice Response system 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, hang up and call Delmarva Power at 1-800-375-7117.