SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Today was the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day and Southwestern Electric Power Company and over 100 other U.S. and Canadian utilities are in support of Utilities United Against Scams.
Many electric, water and natural gas customers across the country are being targeted by utility scams. Scammers often pose as an employee from a utility company and threaten to turn off customer's services unless they make an immediate payment. The scammer will often ask the customer to use a prepaid card.
Karen Wissing, senior communications consultant for SWEPCO, said scammers typically target senior citizens and local businesses. Last year, SWEPCO reported a total of 244 scams. This year through September, SWPECO is reporting 286 scams.
Earlier this year, someone called a dentist's office in Bossier City claiming to be SWEPCO. The scammer even used an app to mask their phone number to make it look like they were with SWEPCO.
According the Wissing, 70 percent of the scammers targeting American Electric Power customers are targeting non-residential customers.
Unfortunately, Wissing said they typically see an uptick in scam activity during the holiday season.
Wissing said a SWEPCO employee would never tell a customer their power will be turned off immediately if an immediate payment is not made. And, would never insist a payment be made with a prepaid card.
"SWEPCO will always inform [a customer] if they are passed their due date for their bill. [It could be] through paper bill or email depending if the customer is paper billing or paperless. We will never notify the customer and say we'll turn off your power unless you pay us this amount," she said.
Customers can always check their status here.
If anyone thinks they are being scammed, Wissing recommends contacting SWEPCO directly by using the number on their bill.