Electricity Scammers Can Threaten Your Electric Service
AUSTIN — In response to a scam affecting consumers cross Texas, members of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas (AECT) are warning consumers of unsolicited calls and emails that threaten to cut off electricity to consumers who don’t share personal information like bank accounts or Social Security numbers.
The scammers do not have the ability to cut electric service, but consumers may be more vulnerable to the possibility of service interruptions during the summer, when the prospect of losing electric service becomes more serious due to the heat.
“Service reliability is vital in the electric industry, and electric companies take their obligations to their customers seriously,” said John Fainter, president and CEO of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas. “We regard any efforts to undermine our reputations as significant threats. Law enforcement officials, electric companies and consumer organizations are diligently investigating these scams, and want to alert customers to stay vigilant this summer and beyond.”
Reminders for consumers:
- Electricity customers should never provide Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information to anyone who requests them during unsolicited phone calls, from emails, etc.
- If you are ever in doubt about a call concerning your electricity account status, especially if the caller threatens to disconnect your service, hang up and call the number on your electric bill to check your account status yourself.
- Other red flags include a threat that your service may be suddenly terminated when you haven’t previously received any other warnings, or being contacted by a company that doesn’t normally send you electric bills.
“We are asking people to please help spread the word about these scams among their neighbors, friends and families — particularly seniors and those whose English skills may not be strong, since they may be more vulnerable to this illegal activity,” Fainter said. “Small businesses have been frequently targeted as well. Electric companies have been warning their customers about this problem for some time now, but in response to a recent increase in scam activity, we want to remind people to check their account status themselves by calling electric companies directly.”
The Association and its members are working with a number of other consumer and community organizations to alert consumers to the problem, supporting the ongoing efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement officials — such as the Texas Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation — to end the scam operation.