Amidst the cold season, FirstEnergy Corp. advises on recognizing and thwarting utility scams, aiming to protect customers from deceptive practices.
With the onset of the winter season, FirstEnergy Corp., a leading utility company, has taken a proactive stance against the rising tide of utility scams.
Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, Michelle Henry, highlights the seasonal surge in scam activities, stating, “Scammers are particularly active in colder months, exploiting customers' fears of losing essential heating services.”
The company notes a worrying trend across the U.S. where scammers impersonate utility workers to access personal financial information or demand immediate payment, threatening service interruptions. In 2023 alone, over 1,000 scam attempts were reported by FirstEnergy customers, with many more likely unreported.
FirstEnergy offers crucial tips to help customers identify and avoid scams:
- Be wary of immediate payment demands via phone or email to prevent same-day shutoffs.
- Avoid unusual payment methods like digital apps, cryptocurrencies, or money transfers.
- Verify the identity of field collectors and only use established payment methods.
- Be cautious of Caller ID spoofing and always use official contact numbers for queries.
- Report suspected scams to local police and FirstEnergy immediately.
Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), an alliance of over 150 utilities including FirstEnergy, plays a significant role in educating the public and combating scams. Their efforts led to the shutdown of over 13,000 scam toll-free numbers by 2022.
This year's campaign, “Screen the Search,” focuses on digital scam methods like misleading sponsored ads, fake QR codes, and deceptive text messages.
Monica Martinez, Executive Director of UUAS, urges customers to verify any unusual requests before making payments, highlighting the importance of customer vigilance in all forms of contact.