EVANSVILLE — Vectren has announced its stand with its fellow electric, water and natural gas utilities and respective trade associations in support of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS).
UUAS is a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian utilities. UUAS will observe the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day, today, Nov. 15, as part of a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign. UUAS is focused on exposing the tactics scammers use to steal money from utility customers and on educating customers in how to protect themselves.
Many electric, water and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person and online tactics to target these customers. Scammers pose as electric, water or natural gas company employees, and they threaten that customers’ services will be disconnected or shut off if they fail to make an immediate payment, typically using a prepaid card or other nontraceable form of payment.
Scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small-business owners during busy customer service hours. However, with the right information, customers can learn to detect and report these predatory scams.
“Vectren would never request a customer to purchase and use a prepaid debit or credit card in order to keep their service on,” said Dan Bugher, Vectren’s senior vice president of customer experience. “We’re urging any customer who is approached for such payments to contact Vectren immediately.”
Red flags for scam activity are as follows:
• The scammer becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made — usually within less than an hour.
• As mentioned above, the scammer instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card — widely available at retail stores — then call back to supposedly make a payment to Vectren.
• The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
How to protect yourself:
• Verify your account status at Vectren.com or by contacting Vectren’s call center.
• Know that Vectren will not require a customer to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
• Contact Vectren directly to make payments online, by phone, via automatic bank draft, by mail or at an authorized pay site.
• Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance notification included within the regular monthly billing — never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
• If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
Vectren continues to work with law enforcement, other utilities and the media as well as the Better Business Bureau to denounce the scams.
If customers receive a phone call they believe to be fraudulent, local law enforcement should be contacted. Customers can also utilize Vectren.com’s live chat option or call 800-227-1376 to reach Vectren’s contact center, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. For information visit www.vectren.com or follow Vectren on Twitter to learn more about the campaign.