WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the holiday season quickly approaching, Pepco is reminding customers to always be on alert for potential payment scams targeting customers. Scams occur throughout the year, but the company generally sees an increase in scam reports during the holiday season. With holiday shopping and family gatherings planned, scammers are using the holiday season to trick customers into providing their personal or financial information and making false payments under the pretense of keeping their service active.
Pepco is joining more than 100 utility companies across the United States and Canada in an effort to protect customers from scams targeting customers of electric, natural gas, water, and other utilities. Collaborating companies have joined together for a fourth year and designated Nov. 20 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of the week-long National Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers. Pepco and its sister Exelon companies, Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power and PECO are committed to educating customers and putting a stop to scamming.
“The safety and well-being of our customers and the communities we serve is our top priority,” said Morlon Bell-Izzard, vice president of Customer Operations for Pepco Holdings. “Coordinated initiatives, such as this, are important in our efforts and our partners’ efforts to educate and protect our customers. By understanding the many tips and tactics associated with these scam attempts, customers will have the power to protect themselves and those in their community.”
When scams occur, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual, who falsely claims to be a company representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s service will be terminated if they fail to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card or other direct payment method.
Scammers have even duplicated the telephone systems of some companies, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate business. Some scammers also use caller ID “spoofing” to replicate a company’s phone number.
Red flags for scam activity
- The scammer often becomes angry and tells a customer his or her account is past due and service will be shut off if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
- The scammer instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card – widely available at most retail stores – then call him or her back to make a payment.
- The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the funds loaded to the card.
How to protect yourself
- Pepco representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
- Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail, or in person.
- Customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If a customer ever questions the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call Pepco at 202-833-7500.
Don’t Get Scammed: Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:
- Never provide your social security number or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a company representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than Pepco.
- Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any Pepco worker into your home or business.
- Never make a payment for services to anyone coming to your door.
Any customer who believes he or she has been a target of a scam is urged to contact their local police and call Pepco immediately at 202-833-7500 to report the situation.
Readers are encouraged to visit The Source, Pepco’s online news room. For more information about Pepco, visit pepco.com. Facebook at facebook.com/pepcoconnect and on Twitter at twitter.com/pepcoconnect. Our mobile app is available at pepco.com/mobileapp.
Pepco is a unit of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation’s leading energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. Pepco provides safe and reliable energy service to approximately 883,000 customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland.