WACO, Texas – Oncor is joining utility companies across the country in kicking off the annual Utility Scam Awareness Week.
“We have never called somebody and said, ‘We need immediate payment or we will shut your service off.’ We do not do that,” says Oncor’s spokesperson, Jennifer Myers.
This is the main message Oncor’s spokesperson Jennifer Myers wants you to know.
“Our role is to maintain the electrical structure around you – the poles, the wires, the distribution, the transmission to make sure the power gets safely to you from the generator to your house,” says Myers.
This is the first warning sign that someone is trying to scam. Myers says there are other signs to watch for.
“Prepaid phones are one of the top ways that scammers take money from folks, so anytime a company says they need a prepaid phone card, alarm bells should go off in your head,” says Myers.
Oncor says there has been an increase of scams after the winter storms. They want customers to be alert and aware.
“This is kicking people when they are down. We want to help rebuild Texas. Oncor wants to be part of the team that helps Texas get back on its feet, and we want to make sure that folks know about these scams. Especially after we seen the uptake after the storms,” says Myers.
In response to these scams, Oncor is working on protecting you from potential fraud.
“We also investigate and talk to local law enforcement when it comes to these scams. We don’t just write down a scam and then put in on a file somewhere. We contact police. We help them investigate, and even prosecute when we find these scammers,” says Myers.
Oncor shares some scams and tactics that you should look out for:
- Fraudulent contact information: Scammers often use email, website addresses, phone numbers and message recordings that look and sound authentic. Those impersonating Oncor may claim that the phone number they are using is different than the number on a customer’s regular utility bill due to telework status. While phone scams account for 75 percent of all impostor scams, email or text communication may also be attempted.
- Door-to-door impostors: Scammers may claim they are “responding to reports of scammers in the neighborhood,” “are on site to perform unscheduled work that requires payment,” or many other excuses to gain customers’ money or personal information.
- Disconnection threat: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment is not made – typically using a prepaid debit card or another non-refundable form of payment.
- Meter payment: The impostor may instruct a customer to use cash or quickly buy a prepaid debit card to cover the cost of a new meter, a meter upgrade or some other form of unscheduled on-site work.
- Information Request: The scammer will insist that a recent payment encountered a system glitch and was not completed, and then asks the customer to make a false payment or otherwise provide personal account information.