HERSHEY, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, Pennsylvania American Water today reinforced its efforts to educate customers about the tricks used by scammers to steal money from customers and how to guard against falling victim to imposter utility scams. Pennsylvania American Water joined utility partners across the country this week to support National Consumer Protection Week (March 4-10) to raise public awareness.
Scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. With the right information, customers can learn to detect and report these predatory scams.
“Too often, we see utility worker imposters prey on customers using a phony excuse to gain access and rob the homeowner,” said Pennsylvania American Water Vice President of Operations Jimmy Sheridan. “Please remember it is extremely rare for a utility employee to show up at a customer’s home without an appointment. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from the local utility and you are not expecting them, do not let them inside without proper photo identification.”
Pennsylvania American Water is a member of the Utilities United Against Scams collaborative of more than 100 natural gas, electric, and water utility companies across the country and Canada. Members of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) work across the utility industry and with regulators, law enforcement, and other telecommunications partners to help stop scams targeting utility customers.
“In a world with constantly improving technological innovations, it’s critical that customers stay ahead of the ever-expanding array of threats posed by scammers,” said Utilities United Against Scams Executive Director and former State Utility Consumer Advocate for Texas Sheri Givens. “The broad collaboration behind Utilities United Against Scams, including its recent partnership with the Federal Trade Commission, is helping to shine a light on this important issue and is providing resources for customers to recognize scams and avoid becoming victims.”
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- Pennsylvania American Water reminds customers that its service personnel wear uniforms, drive company-branded vehicles, and wear photo identification badges with the company’s logo. Customers are urged to take time to examine the photo identification tag whenever a Pennsylvania American Water employee arrives at their home or business. The company does not accept payment at a customer’s house or business. Residents with any suspicions about individuals claiming to be utility workers should call 9-1-1, or Pennsylvania American Water’s customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.
- If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill. Companies never send a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.
- If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should call their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company’s website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.
UUAS is dedicated to combating impostor utility scams by providing a forum for utilities and trade associations to share data and best practices, in addition to working together to implement initiatives to inform and protect customers. Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from scams or follow along on social media: Twitter @U_U_A_S and Facebook @UtilitiesUnited.
Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.4 million people. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,900 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 46 states and Ontario, Canada. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.com and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.