We want to remind customers to be alert for scams ahead of Utility Scam Awareness Day tomorrow, Nov. 15. I&M and our parent company American Electric Power (AEP), is joining Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), along with hundreds of electric, water and natural gas companies to raise awareness of common utility scams.
"With the holidays approaching, this is a high-risk time for many of our customers to be targeted by scammers," said Katie Davis, vice president of External Affairs and Customer Experience. "We want to remind customers to be alert and how to recognize scams to avoid falling victim to fraud."
Since the start of 2023, I&M has received more than 150 reports of scam attempts targeting our customers. Often times, scammers will call or text customers with Caller ID showing the utility company's name.
Here are the four most common utility scams:
- Personal information. Criminals agree to mail checks for overpayments on an account if they confirm their personal data, including birthdays, addresses and Social Security numbers.
- Threat to disconnect. Scammers will call saying a customer’s utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected – usually within 30 minutes – if a payment is not made. I&M will provide multiple notices and help customers with payment plan options before service interruptions.
- Mobile Banking or Gift Card Payments. A scam artist says you need to make immediate payment through a mobile banking app. I&M will never ask for payments using a pre-paid debit card, gift card or third-party mobile applications.
- New meter refund. Criminals have started telling homeowners they need to pay for a new meter and make the payment before the meter is installed.
"Our top tip is to end the call and then call I&M to report the scam attempt," Davis said. "Scammers have sophisticated tactics and by ending the call you end their scam. If you are unsure if it's a scam or want to confirm the status of your account, you can call the number found on your bill or on our website to be connected to a customer service specialist."
In-person scammers may try to fool customers in the same way as over the phone with threats of shutting off service and demanding immediate payment. Never let someone into your home unless you verify their identity or have a scheduled appointment. I&M employees' uniforms vary, but often times they will have the company logo visible, be in a vehicle with the company logo and carry a company identification card, which you should request to see.
If you receive a call that sounds like a scam or have a visit from someone claiming to be with I&M, please call the police and report the incident to us by calling 1-800-311-4634.