ComEd Joins Effort to Protect Customers from Scammers for Utilities United Against Scams Day
To combat long-running scams that target customers, ComEd is joining forces with other Illinois utilities – ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas – as well as dozens of natural gas and electric utilities across the United States and Canada, including other Exelon utilities Atlantic City Electric, BGE, Delmarva, PECO, and Pepco, to help protect customers from wide-spread scams targeting customers of utility service providers.
The cohort of utilities have designated November 16th as “Utilities United Against Scams Day,” which will culminate a week-long campaign focused on exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers, and how customers can protect themselves. The collaborative campaign encourages the public to share these messages to help guard against scam activity.
When being scammed, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a utility representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s service will be disconnected if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe.
Employees are encouraged to share the following tips and things to look out for with friends, family members, and neighbors to stop scammers in their tracks.
Red flags for scam activity
- The thief becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
- The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.
- The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
How to protect customers
- Utility representatives will never ask or require a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
- Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
- Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification with the regularmonthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police then call your local utility. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
Anyone who believes he or she has been a target of a phone scam is urged to contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office toll free at 1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013) or visit the Illinois Attorney General’s web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov and click on the link “Protecting Consumers.”
Don’t Get Scammed: Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:
- Never provide social security or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than your local utility providers.
- Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business.
- When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
- Never make payment for services to anyone coming to the door.
- If customers have concerns about the status of their account, they can also contact their local utility providers:
Nicor Gas 1-888-NICOR4U
Peoples Gas 866-556-6001
North Shore Gas 866-556-6004