Officials warn against growing utility scam

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Commerce and Rocky Mountain Power are warning utility customers to be aware of scammers posing as Rocky Mountain Power customer service agents or attorneys.

During the con, elderly consumers are told that under a grant authorized by President Obama, they can receive a utility bill credit or have their bills paid directly. Of course, the potential victims are told they must provide their Social Security, credit card or check routing number first.

The scam has been reported across the country and in Utah in recent months. Some scammers are handing out flyers in person, while others are using social media, texting or contacting consumers by phone.

“If someone tells you that the President of the United States will help you pay your utility bills, it’s simply not true,” said Francine A. Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce. “As we’ve said before, be skeptical of any phone call or text message without verifying it first with the corresponding business or retailer.”

Some customers who have received such calls have been told their electricity will be disconnected if they don’t provide their credit card information.

“These thieves are in no way associated with our company, and we take very seriously any efforts to defraud our customers, especially using our company’s good customer relationships and reputation,” said Karen Gilmore, Rocky Mountain Power’s vice president of customer service.

Has the scam reached Southern Utah?

Maria O’Mara, a representative of Rocky Mountain Power, said the utility company powers portions of Southern Utah such as Cedar City, Ivins, Leeds, and La Verkin. Currently is it unknown if any Southern Utah costumers have been contacted by potential scammers. Still, she said it was best for individuals to remain aware.

“This is a utility-wide scam,” O’Mara said. “It’s been reported all over the country.”

Jennifer Bolton, a public information officer with the Utah Dept. of Commerce, said it was unknown at this point whether or not anyone in Southern Utah has been contacted by utility con artists.

When UDC staff started to receive calls from concerned citizens about the utility scam, Bolton said, the general locations of where the calls were coming in from was not recorded.

Bolton said there were currently no reports of anyone in Utah falling for the scam. In order to keep it that way the Utah Dept. of Commerce and Rocky Maintain Power are warning the public against becoming possible victims of the scheme.

“We’re trying to stay ahead (of the con artists),” she said.

Tips offered by Rocky Mountain for customer safety and security:

  • Rocky Mountain Power employees always wear identification badges when performing work in the field. If the ID is not visible and you don’t see any other Rocky Mountain Power logo, you should ask the individual to show you their badge.
  • All Rocky Mountain Power vehicles are marked with the company’s name or logo. If you are approached by someone claiming to be from Rocky Mountain Power, check to see if their vehicle is clearly marked and/or ask for ID.
  • Verification is easy: If you have any doubts or concerns that a visitor or caller represents Rocky Mountain Power, call Rocky Mountain Power toll-free at 1-888-221-7070 to confirm the person’s identity and role with the company before proceeding with any transaction.
  • If Rocky Mountain Power contacts a customer, the representative will always have the customer’s account number. Even then, if you are approached by phone and have any concerns about the validity of the call, it is always appropriate to let the caller know you prefer to call them back. They can always be reached through the toll-free 1-888-221-7070 number, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • As another safeguard, if a customer calls Rocky Mountain Power to ask questions or pay their bill, the customer will be asked specifically to verify his or her identity to protect access to their account.
  • Also, Rocky Mountain Power employees will not demand immediate payment for damaged or broken electrical equipment or any other service. Be suspicious of anyone who approaches you and asks for on-the-spot payment, especially if they ask for cash.
  • Customers should never provide unsolicited callers or visitors with credit card numbers or any other information that may compromise their financial security.
  • Rocky Mountain Power encourages customers to consider paperless billing. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it is more secure than billing by mail. Every bill you receive on paper is more costly to resources and also is an opportunity for account information theft from the mail box or the trash can.

Anyone receiving such visits or calls about their utility bill is encouraged to pay attention to any information – such as license plate numbers, a number that appears on caller ID or an address where they’re supposed to send money – and to report the incident to local police and Rocky Mountain Power.

For additional information, call Rocky Mountain Power toll-free at 1-888-221-7070, or visit www.rockymoutainpower.net.

 

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