This week, the American Gas Association, in coordination with a number of natural gas utilities and industry trade associations, have launched an inaugural campaign, titled “Utilities United Against Scams.” This collaborative effort is geared toward promoting awareness and prevention of the increasing number of scamming incidents targeting utility customers across North America. As a result of this effort, every year, the third Wednesday in November will be designated as Utilities United Against Scams Day.
This national campaign addresses the wide-range of utility scams including telephone, mail, email, door-to-door and other scams that involve criminals posing as utility company representatives and demanding immediate payment or personal information from customers. Scammers often target those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly and non-native English speakers. However, with the right information, customers can learn to avoid and report these predatory scams.
Customers who believe they have been targeted by utility scammers should follow these tips:
- Hang up the phone or close the door, and call your utility company’s verified direct phone number. You can find this number on your company’s website or on your utility bill.
- Do not give the caller or visitor a prepaid card, such as a Green Dot card, a wire transfer, or any other form of payment that may be difficult to trace.
- Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers.
- Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider.
- Delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or demand personal information.
- Contact your local police through the non-emergency telephone number, or your state attorney general’s office, or contact the Federal Trade Commission.
AGA is committed to promoting awareness of the increasingly sophisticated and complex nature of utility scams across the nation, ultimately helping to protect customers from this fraudulent activity. AGA member companies across the nation will continue to work alongside law enforcement, industry stakeholders and political leaders at the local and national level to denounce these disruptive scams.