The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) joins Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) – a consortium of more than 100 electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations – in supporting the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day to draw attention to the growing issue of utility scams targeting customers.
The effort to educate customers on how to protect themselves from scammers, and to generally raise awareness of the matter are critical components to combat the evolving issue. A recent report published by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) found that people are particularly susceptible to utility scams. Scammers typically contact customers by phone, in-person or the internet posing as a utility employee and exploit the trust customers place in their utilities by using aggressive tactics to extort money. Of the 30 different types of scams tracked and categorized by the BBB, utility scam victims were found to have a median financial loss of $500.
“Water utility customers are particularly susceptible to impostors claiming they need to gain entry to homes to physically check the water meter or pipes located inside the home,” said Joseph Herits, UUAS Vice Chair and Assistant Manager of Customer Service at NAWC-member Middlesex Water Company. “We strongly encourage our customers to act with caution and to ask for a company photo ID before allowing any worker into their home or business. If there is still concern or doubt, customers should call their utilities’ Customer Service Department to verify the activity at their home or business. We value our customers’ safety. The resources available through UUAS will go a long way to helping consumers better protect themselves.”
This week, UUAS released “Consumer’s Guide to Impostor Utility Scams” highlighting the most common types of impostor utility scams, including unsolicited contact via telephone, internet, and in-person visits from an individual claiming to be a utility company representative. In some cases, scammers threaten to disconnect or shut off service immediately unless the customer provides immediate payment.
Customers of private water companies and all utility types who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened by someone claiming to be a utility employee, should immediately contact local law enforcement authorities. Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from scams.