FRANKFORT– Kentucky Power is joining forces today with more than 20 gas and electric utility companies across the United States and Canada to protect customers from long-running scams.
These utilities have designated November 16 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” Kentucky Power and other utilities are exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers.
“Scammers are targeting local businesses, senior citizens and other customers across Kentucky,” said Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power’s president and chief operating officer. “We’re sharing this information so customers can protect themselves from this fraudulent activity. We also want our customers to know our employees will never demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid card or ask you to meet us in a parking lot to make a payment.”
Thieves are calling Kentucky Power customers and:
· Threatening to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made;
· Telling customers they need a new electric meter, but must make a payment before the new meter is installed;
· Offering a discount on their Kentucky Power bill if they sign up for auto-pay;
· Demanding a deposit is paid immediately.
More Red flags for scam activity
· The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment to Kentucky Power.
· The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
· The scammers often call from numbers that names Kentucky Power on the Caller ID. And they have a telephone recording that sounds like Kentucky Powers phone system message.
How to protect yourself
· Call Kentucky Power at 1-800-572-1113 to verify your account balance and the date your payment is due. Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
· Kentucky Power will notify customers by mail that their account is past due and their electric service will be disconnected – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
· Customers who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves should hang up and call the local police and then Kentucky Power at 1-800-572-1113. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
On average, more than 90 percent of customers who receive a call and report it to Kentucky Power indicate they did not fall for the scam. In the initial stages of the scam activity, it is estimated that at least 50 percent of customers contacted were tricked.
Kentucky Power continues to educate customers about scams through messages on their electric bills, on kentuckypower.com and through social media. Kentucky Power also works with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers.
For more information, visit kentuckypower.com/StopScams, or follow Kentucky Power on Facebook to learn more.
Kentucky Power provides service to nearly 169,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties. It is a unit of the American Electric Power system, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a more than 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP also operates 224,000 miles of distribution lines. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning approximately 31,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also supplies 3,200 megawatts of renewable energy to customers. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.