(WTRF) – They prey on fear, calling our houses, telling us we’re going to lose power, gas and other utilities unless we pay.
They’re scammers and sadly they’ve gotten pretty good at fooling us.
But, there are some easy ways to beat the deception, protect our wallets, and keep those utilities running.
We have seen an increase in these types of scam situations.Neil Durbin, Spokesman, Dominion Energy West Virginia
Between COVID-19 and the holidays, scammers are trying to strike when our guard is down.
There are easy ways to outsmart them.
First, you have to recognize the scam, which can be hard.
Some of these scammers are very sophisticated and they can even spoof our company phone number to look like it’s a legitimate call.Neil Durbin, Spokesman, Dominion Energy West Virginia
So, listen closely to what these scammers say.
Especially if they start using language such as threatening to disconnect your power within a very short amount of time if you don’t’ pay. That’s a huge red flag.Joelle Moray, External Affairs Manager, Appalachian Power
If a customer is in a shutdown situation, that generally is done by mail. There’s a message on the bill they receive. We do not call customers in these situations.Neil Durbin, Spokesman, Dominion Energy West Virginia
Both AEP and Dominion Energy West Virginia will never call demanding payment.
If the person on the phone is asking for payment in pre-paid cards or gift cards, then it’s definitely a fake.
So, what do you do?
First, hang up.
Next, call your utility company.
Do not call back that same phone number, because that’s the scam phone number.Joelle Moray, External Affairs Manager, Appalachian Power
You can also verify your account status online or on the company’s app, but it’s important to call to notify the company you were the target of a scam.
While many of these scams come by phone, also be aware of suspicious e-mails or text messages and never open attachments.
In some instances, these scammers may come to your door.
Remember, legitimate workers from utility companies will not show up without an appointment, unless there’s an emergency.
Under normal circumstances, AEP would not need to be inside the home, right, because most meters are outside the home.Joelle Moray, External Affairs Manager, Appalachian Power
These workers should be carrying company issued ID, be wearing clothing with a company logo and have a clearly marked vehicle.
If you have any doubts, ask someone reporting to be working with us to produce that documentation, that ID card, and they would be happy to do so.Neil Durbin, Spokesman, Dominion Energy West Virginia
Both companies say if someone does come to your home who is NOT a utility worker, call authorities right away and don’t open the door.
If you receive a call from either of these utility companies, call Dominion Energy West Virginia at 1-800-688-4673 and AEP at 1-800-852-6942. A representative will be able to confirm your account status.