11/14/2016
SWEPCO ramps up efforts to protect customers from utility scammers

AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) is joining forces with more than 80 gas and electric utility companies across the United States and Canada to protect customers from long-running scams.

These utilities have designated November 16th as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.”

Scam attempts increase during the holidays.

SWEPCO and other utilities are exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers.

“Scammers are targeting local businesses, senior citizens and customers whose native language is not English,” said Brett Mattison, SWEPCO’s director of customer services and marketing. “We’re sharing this information so customers can protect themselves from this fraudulent activity.”

“SWEPCO employees will never demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card or ask a customer to meet us in a parking lot to make a payment,” Mattison said.

Thieves are calling SWEPCO customers and:

  • Threatening to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made;
  • Telling customers they need a new electric meter, but must make a payment before the new meter is installed;
  • Offering a discount on their SWEPCO bill if they sign up for auto-pay;
  • Demanding a deposit is paid immediately.

More Red flags for scam activity

  • 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 to SWEPCO.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
  • The scammers are calling from numbers that names SWEPCO on the Caller ID. And they have a telephone recording that sounds like SWEPCO’s phone system message.

How to protect yourself

  • Call SWEPCO at 1-888-216-3523 to verify your account balance and date your payment is due.
  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
  • SWEPCO will notify customers by mail that their account is past due and their electric service will be disconnected – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
  • If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police and then SWEPCO. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.

Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local authorities, and then SWEPCO at 1-888-216-3523.

More than 90 percent of customers who receive a call and report it to SWEPCO indicate they did not fall for the scam. In the initial stages of the scam activity, it is estimated that at least 50 percent of customers contacted were tricked.

SWEPCO continues to education customers about scams through messages on their electric bills, on SWEPCO.com, through social media and public service announcements.

SWEPCO is working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers.

 

For more information visit SWEPCO.com/StopScams or follow SWEPCO on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more.

 

SWEPCO is headquartered in Shreveport, and its 1,675 employees serve 530,000 customers in western Arkansas, northwestern and central Louisiana, and eastern and North Texas.

 

SWEPCO is an operating company unit of American Electric Power (AEP), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states.  AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S.  AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.  AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the transmission system that covers 38 eastern states and central U.S. states (SWEPCO area is in this interconnection). AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma,

 

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT-Corporate Communications:
Scott McCloud, 318-673-3532