Utility Company Scam

A Security Scam by Sally Shabaker

PECO Energy in Pennsylvania has received numerous complaints from customers who received phone calls from people claiming to be PECO employees. The callers tell them that they are hundreds of dollars behind on their bills and at risk for having their service cut off. “This type of scam is usually done during peak seasons,” says Marc. “Now is a prime time for electric company scams, because of the need we all have for air-conditioning.”

The scammer tells the customer that the fastest way to avoid having their service turned off would be to go to Walgreens or CVS and buy a prepaid Green Dot Visa debit card, because that would be the same as cash. Once they have the card, they are to call the scammer back and provide them with the information on the debit card.

Here are some tips to avoid this type of scam. Any caller requiring payment via debit card is a huge sign that you are being taken in. Another sign to look for is if the call-back number to provide the card information has a 718 area code, which is for parts of New York City, far outside the range of PECO. The AARP also warns people to beware of calls from the 876 area code, which is often used by scammers from outside the county. Never give any credit card or bank account info to anyone who calls you directly. Hang up and call PECO back on the number listed on their website or on your bill. Ask anyone who contacts you in this manner to provide you with information to confirm they actually know who they’re calling. They should be able to tell you your full account number, the amount and date of your last payment and the exact amount due.