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Utilities warn consumers to be careful of scams

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: November 15, 2016

Utilities across the nation are joining together tomorrow to warn consumers against scams.

Most utility scams involve criminals posing as natural gas, electric or water employees in person, over the phone or online. They demand immediate payment via cash, credit cards or pre-paid debit cards to avoid immediate service disonnection. 

Customers who get these calls should instead contact the utility directly using a number you know. The number for Dominion East Ohio is 800-362-7557 and the number for Ohio Edison is 1-800-633-4766.

 

Here is information from Dominion East Ohio, which is participating in the national initiative.

 

 Dominion East Ohio is proud to stand with its fellow natural gas distribution companies, as well as utilities in the water and electric sectors, to observe the inaugural Utilities United against Scams Day (UUASD) on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, and raise awareness about utility scams throughout the week.

Most utility scams involve criminals posing as natural gas, electric or water provider employees — either in person, over the phone or via internet — and demanding immediate payment via cash, credit cards or prepaid debit cards, supposedly in order to prevent service disconnection. These unscrupulous criminals can be very convincing, and 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, which is 1-800-362-7557, for Dominion East Ohio.

·         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, which 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.

·         If you are shopping for an Energy Choice natural gas supplier, only share your Dominion account number after you have accepted a participating Energy Choice or governmental aggregation gas supplier’s rate offer.

·         Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider. Also delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or demand personal information.

·         To learn more about scams that may be active in your area, or if you have questions about the authenticity of communications from persons claiming to be utility representatives, Contact your local police through the non-emergency telephone number, the Ohio Attorney General’s office at 1-800-282-0515, and/or contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/or 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

UUASD is a collaborative effort among the electric, gas, and water utility industries to help prevent utility service fraud through education, awareness, and customer advocacy initiatives. A primary goal of this collective effort is to help customers learn how to identify and avoid utility-related scams.

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