HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today highlighted the inaugural “Utilities United Against Scams Day” across the United States and Canada by joining regulators, utilities and industry leaders in raising awareness about utility scams, and continuing to urge consumers to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their personal information.
In launching its first week-long informational campaign to educate consumers about scams, Utilities United Against Scams designated November 16 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day” which, going forward, will be observed annually on the third Wednesday in November.
“With the heating season now upon us, and as part of this new industry-wide collaboration, the PUC continues its unwavering support to public outreach and educational efforts geared toward raising consumer awareness about utility scams,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “From imposters posing as legitimate utility workers to fraudulent telemarketing calls to threats of service termination for bill arrearages, scammers are constantly seeking to deceive utility customers into paying money and providing personal information that can be used for unlawful purposes. We want Pennsylvanians to be well informed about their rights and protections, and well-equipped to act diligently, before falling victim to one of these scams.”
Chairman Brown urged customers suspecting a potential scam to contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380, as well as alert their local utility. Additionally, Chairman Brown noted that if someone claims to be a utility representative over the phone, or visits in person and wishes to enter the home, consumers should call the utility company first to verify that they are in fact speaking to a person from the utility.
Above all else, Chairman Brown urged consumers that if they feel their safety is threatened, they should immediately call their local police.
The PUC reminds residential customers that if they are threatened with termination of utility service unless they arrange to pay off their bills over the phone, service will not be shut off until the utility company has taken the following steps:
Send you a 10-Day Notice. Once you get the notice, the utility company has up to 60 days to shut off your service.
Attempt to contact you three days prior to your shut-off date.
During winter months (December 1 through March 31), if the utility company cannot reach you at the time of termination, they will leave a 48-hour notice at your residence.
Additionally, the PUC offers the following tips to help consumers protect themselves from scams:
• Supplier sales representatives are required to prominently display a photo ID showing their name and the name of the supplier for whom they are working.
• If not displayed, ask for identification.
• Suppliers will only need your account information when you are ready to make the switch.
• Utilities do not normally come to your door unless you have called them.
• If someone claims to be a utility representative and wishes to enter your home, call the utility company to verify if they have personnel in the area.
• Ask for the name of the supplier.
• Ask for the price and other terms and conditions. Know and understand how it compares to your utility price.
• Only share account information over the phone if you are ready to make a switch.
• Do not feel pressured to make any decisions over the phone or immediately.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility. “Like” PAPowerSwitch on Facebook for easy access to information on electric shopping.
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