November 12, 2013
Warning: Phone scam targeting electric utility customers
The Vermont Department of Public Service is alerting Vermonters to phone scams targeting electric utility consumers. Customers of two electric companies have been targeted so far and it remains to be seen whether customers from other utilities will also become targets. On October 29th Green Mountain Power (GMP) announced a scam targeting their customers and on November 6th Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) warned their members that they have also been targeted. In both scams the caller claims to represent the utility and demands the customer provide their credit card information in order to pay their bill or else face immediate disconnection of their electric service.
Utility companies must follow state rules when working with customers about paying past due bills or disconnecting their service. A utility company cannot disconnect service without first sending customers a written notice explaining that they will be disconnecting them. Additionally, in most situations state rules require utilities to establish payment arrangements with residential customers allowing them to pay off their delinquency over time.
Anyone receiving a call threatening immediate disconnection and demanding credit card information should hang up and not give out any personal information, including account or credit card numbers. Instead, they can call their utility to confirm the status of their account and can report the call to the Consumer Assistance Program of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-649-2424 or, for those within Chittenden County, 656-3183. If a person mistakenly gave their personal information to one of these callers, she or he should also contact their local law enforcement.
For more information, please call GMP at 1-888-835-4672 or VEC at 1-800-832-2667.