PSC Warns Consumers about Utility Scams

CHARLESTON, WV – The Public Service Commission of West Virginia cautions utility customers to be alert to a new round of utility scams.  This warning comes as several predatory incidents have been reported throughout the state.  Recently, a caller told a customer that their electric service would be terminated unless the customer immediately sent a US Express Money Order.

“Scammers manipulate people by playing on their fears, and they don’t care who they hurt,” said PSC Chairman Charlotte R. Lane. “If a caller demands payment by an unusual method and threatens to disconnect your utility service, chances are that it is a scam.”

“Public utilities will send written notification if your account is past due.  If company representatives contact you by phone, they will explain how payment may be made,” Lane said.  “They will never ask for your bank or credit card information over the phone or by email, nor will they direct you to buy a prepaid debit card or money order, or make a wire transfer as payment.”

“Caller ID spoofing software can make it appear that a phone call is coming from the utility company.  Scammers may even give you a call back number. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.” Lane said.  “Scam email messages look like they come from the utility, and may even include a link to a website that looks like the utility’s website.  If you receive one, do not click on any link. You should delete the email immediately.  Only use the contact information printed on your utility bill and contact the company directly.”

“If you believe you have been targeted by a utility scam, contact local law enforcement or the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Technicians at 1-800-642-8544,” Lane said.

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