FirstEnergy warns customers of phone scams

Telephone (WTAM)

(Akron) - Scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are  most vulnerable, like senior citizens or business owners who rely on  electric service to run their business and make a living," says Lauren Siburkis of FirstEnergy Utilities.  "We want others to hear directly from victims of attempted utility  scams, in hopes they'll learn how to spot a scam in the future.  Most  important, if you ever receive a call demanding immediate payment to  your electric utility, hang up, don't pay up."

Siburkis tells Newsradio WTAM 1100, with warmer weather here, both residential and  business customers should also be on alert for door-to-door visits from  scammers who demand immediate payment to avoid service disconnection.  She says although the scammers work year-round, they are most active in the  winter and summer months, when people cannot go without heat or air  conditioning.

The "Hang Up, Don't Pay Up" video is featured on FirstEnergy's  Scam and Fraud Information website.   This site describes some of the most widespread schemes targeting  utility customers, and offers facts and safety reminders that can help  customers avoid becoming a victim of these crimes.  Customers are urged  to keep the following tips in mind to help ensure the safety of their  family, property and personal information:

  • Customers with past-due accounts will receive a written notice of  their account status, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of  service.
  • While FirstEnergy representatives oftentimes make courtesy calls to  customers to remind them about an outstanding balance, they would  explain how a payment can be made using the established payment options.  They will not demand payment over the phone or at a particular physical  location.
  • FirstEnergy field collectors – carrying company-issued photo  identification – will offer customers with past-due accounts the  opportunity to pay their bill in person before shutting them off. This  does not apply to Pennsylvania customers.
  • FirstEnergy does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as  payment, and their representatives will not demand bank or credit card  information over the phone.
  • Customers who suspect a scam should hang up the phone/close the  door, and call the local police then FirstEnergy. Never dial the phone  number the scammers provide.

"We encourage customers to contact us directly using the phone number  listed on our website and on their billing statement if they need to  verify the status of their electric account or the confirm the identity  of a FirstEnergy employee," says Siburkis.  "When in doubt, always give us a  call."

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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