Beware of fraudsters: How to spot utility power shutoff scams this winter

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Winter can be tough for a number reasons — including heating and electric bills hitting their peak.

Also on the rise: power shutoff scams making the rounds in Philadelphia. More than 500 utility scams were reported last month — a 110% increase from the same time in January 2020, according to PECO.

Before picking up a phone call from an unfamiliar number — here are some tips on spotting scammers:

It’s not PECO if the person asks you to pay a past due balance with a prepaid debit, credit or gift card. If you’re still concerned and confused, you can tell the individual you’ll be paying online. No one from PECO will force you to pay over the phone.

PECO representatives will never ask customers for their social security number. If someone shows up at your home unexpectedly, ask them to show you their company-issued photo ID through the door or window. If they refuse to provide it, they’re not from PECO.

Sometimes the fraudster can duplicate the phone system to make it appear that PECO is calling you, what is otherwise known as spoofing. If you’re weary of the call, hang up immediately and call PECO directly at 1-800-494-4000 to confirm with whom you’re speaking.

Protect your account information. Do not provide any of your PECO account or billing information with anyone. An actual PECO rep will have that info on hand if needed.

Verify your bills. Make sure to check your printed bill. Log on to your account at PECO.com or by using the mobile app to see your account status, balances due, payments made and any other information. If you receive an email, make sure the URL link you’re clicking says www.peco.com.

Lastly, make sure to report scams. If you think you were the target of a scam, contact the police and call PECO at 1-800-494-4000 to let them know about the situation.

 

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