SWEPCO, advises their customers to always be on the lookout for utility scams that are engineered by people who try to fool you into giving them money.

 

It's part of a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign about utility scams. Swepco says that many electric, water, and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. They say scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target customers. Often these perpetrators pose as utility employees, and threaten customers that their service will be disconnected or shut-off if they fail to make an immediate payment, typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment.

These scammers can seem convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low income communities.

Southwestern Electric Power Company says their employees, "Will never demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card, or ask a customer to meet them in a parking lot to make a payment," according to Brett Mattison, director of customer services and marketing for the company.

SWEPCO  says watch for these signs of potential scam activity:

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 victims money is gone.

Here are ways to protect yourself according to SWEPCO:

Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay the bill.

If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of services, customers should hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or the shut the door, if the case should be.

If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should do what was stated above, then call their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company's website and report it. If you ever feel that you are in physical danger they say to call 911.