OG&E provides tips for avoiding utility scams
OG&E is warning customers to be alert for utility scams.
According to the company, Nov. 15 is Utility Scam Awareness Day. Throughout the entire week, OG&E and other utility companies across the country are launching an awareness campaign to educate customers on how to avoid getting tricked out of their hard-earned cash.
“We’ve heard so many tragic stories of our customers losing money they couldn’t afford to lose to these scammers, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure others don’t fall victim to their tactics,” said Brian Alford, OG&E spokesman.
OG&E officials say scammers will typically us phone, in-person and online tactics to target customers. They'll often pose as utility employees or threaten to cut off service unless payment is made immediately. Officials say scammers will often be aggressive, and target senior citizens and low-income communities.
“Impostor utility scams can be highly profitable to scammers and financially detrimental to consumers,” said UUAS Executive Director and former Texas Utility Consumer Advocate Sheri Givens. “To prevent future crimes, it is important to educate community leaders and consumers on how to spot, avoid, and report scams.”
But OG&E says there are ways you can spot a scam:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
OG&E says there are also ways you can protect yourself from being scammed:
- Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. OG&E does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
- If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification. OG&E never sends a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.
- If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email or shut the door. They should then call OG&E at the number on their monthly bill or the company’s website, oge.com, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
For more on scam prevention, visit OG&E online.