Learn how to protect yourself during Utility Scam Awareness Week
Every day, scammers target thousands of customers throughout all industries across the country in an effort to steal money or personal information. Recognizing suspicious activity is the most important thing customers can do when they encounter a possible scam. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target these customers. They pose as electric, water, or natural gas company employees and they threaten customers with disconnection if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment.
FPL stands with Utilities United Against Scams, a group comprised of more than 100 utilities helping educate residents on how they can protect themselves against scams. This week, UUAS is participating in a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign against scams. Here are some tips to spot a scam and how customers can protect themselves.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
- Ask for payment with prepaid card: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid to supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company. When the customer calls back, the caller asks for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds and the victim’s money is gone.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.
- If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail. FPL never sends a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.
- If someone claiming to be from FPL asks to gain access to your home, ask to see the badge or a work order. All FPL employees and approved contractors carry proper identification.
- If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call FPL or their utility company at the number on their bill or the company’s website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information.