PINEVILLE, La. (CLECO) - On Wednesday, Cleco will join its fellow utilities and respective trade associations in observance of the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day.
“Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign aimed at exposing the tactics scammers use to steal money from utility customers and educating customers on how to protect themselves,” said Shirley Turner, vice president of customer experience.
Electric customers across the country are being targeted by imposter utility scams every day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person and online tactics to target these customers. Scammers pose as a company employee and threaten service disconnection if the customer fails to make an immediate payment, typically through a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment.
“Scammers can be very convincing and often target small business owners during busy customer service hours,” said Turner. “However, residential customers also should remain vigilant.”
“Imposter utility scams can be highly profitable to scammers and financially detrimental to consumers,” said Utilities United Against Scams executive director, Sheri Givens. “To prevent future crimes, it is important to educate community leaders and consumers on how to spot, avoid and report scams.”
Signs of potential scam activity:
• Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer their bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made, usually within an hour.
• Request for immediate payment with a prepaid card: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card and call the customer back for the prepaid card’s number, which gives the scammer instant access to the card’s funds and the victim’s money is gone.
How customers can protect themselves:
• If a Cleco customer receives a suspicious phone call, hang up immediately and never call back the number given by the caller. Cleco customers can reach a legitimate Cleco representative by calling 1-800-622-6537 or visiting a local customer service office. Also, customers can verify account information through the company’s self-service application, MyAccount.
• A Cleco representative will never demand how customers should make a bill payment. In fact, Cleco offers multiple ways for customers to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in-person at customer service offices or authorized payment centers. A list of authorized payment locations, including Cleco customer service offices, is available at cleco.com.