Utility companies warn customers about ‘deceptively creative’ scammers
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Wednesday is Utility Scam Awareness Day, and Atlanta Gas Light is joining other energy companies to raise awareness and help educate customers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, American consumers lost $2.6 billion in 2022 to “imposter scammers.”
“They are getting deceptively more and more creative in how they contact customers,” said Atlanta Gas Light spokeswoman Holly Lovett, adding that scammers sometimes use social media, repeated calls, texts, emails, and in-person tactics to try to coerce electric and gas customers into sending an immediate payment to avoid service disconnection.
Atlanta Gas Light strongly encourages customers to stay vigilant of potential scam activity, including the following:
- Threats to disconnect their natural gas service if payment is not made.
- Requests that payments be made from a single method, such as a debit card, prepaid card, checking account, or cryptocurrency, or to send funds via a mobile app to make a bill payment.
- Claims they have overpaid, and their bank account or credit card number is needed for a refund.
- Requests to vacate their home so that a meter or other natural gas equipment can be replaced.
- Suggestions through social media that their bill will be covered by a charity after they make a partial payment by way of a wire transfer.
Atlanta Gas Light representatives said the company takes the following proactive measures to protect customers:
- The company will never contact customers regarding their natural gas bills. While Atlanta Gas Light maintains the region’s pipeline infrastructure, responds to emergencies, and reads meters every month, it does not bill customers directly. Only certified natural gas marketers in Georgia sell natural gas to customers and subsequently bill these customers for their natural gas use.
- Atlanta Gas Light employees and contractors who visit customer homes or businesses will have Atlanta Gas Light identification.
- Customers have the option of signing up to receive the company’s Keep Me Informed appointment status text messages. The text service allows a customer to see a photo of the technician who’s assigned to perform work at the property.
Lovett said the best way to avoid being the victim of a scam is to trust your gut.
“If they’re requesting payment or anything that feels uneasy, hang up immediately,” she said. Let us know, but first and foremost, call your local authorities.”
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