11/30/2017
Scammers targeting SWEPCO customers in East Texas

On November 29, SWEPCO servicemen in Henderson, Texas were stopped by a police officer who reported there are people claiming they are SWEPCO workers who are wanting to go into their houses and check their breaker boxes.  They have targeted three different neighborhoods so far in the area.

SWEPCO has NO reason to go into customer’s homes.  

 -Scammers hit hardest during the holiday season.

-Scams can be in person, over the phone or online.

-Always ask to see an AEP employee ID badge from anyone claiming to be from SWEPCO or AEP. Our personnel should be wearing appropriate company logo shirts, hard hats or ball caps, and ask to see the SWEPCO truck parked outside!

-We will NEVER go inside a house to look at your circuit breaker, unless you have a scheduled appointment with us. Our responsibility ends at the meter base and electric meter.

Many electric, water, and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target these customers. Scammers pose as electric, water, or natural gas company employees, and they threaten that customers’ services will be disconnected or shut off if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment. Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours.

“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 want our customers to 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,” said Mattison.

Signs of Potential Scam Activity:

• Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.

• Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.

• Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.

How Customers Can Protect Themselves:

• Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.

• If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill. Companies never send a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.

• If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company’s website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.

 

 

 

SWEPCO Corporate Communications
Scott McCloud: 318-673-3532