Protect Yourself from Tallahassee-Area Electricity Scams

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Florida Attorney General Ashely Moody released a consumer alert earlier this month warning the public to protect themselves from the 12 scams of Christmas, which include:

  • Fake gift exchanges
  • Lookalike web pages
  • Temp holiday jobs
  • Chick-fil-A gift cards
  • Vacation fakers
  • Packing tracking scammers
  • Phishing emails
  • Fraud charities
  • Public Wi-Fi risks
  • Porch pirates
  • Counterfeit toys
  • Shoulder surfing and card skimming

Tallahassee-based Meeks Electrical Services applauds the attorney general for issuing the warning but would suggest that the list should not stop at 12. Scammers claiming to represent electric utility departments were especially active in the summer, and there is little reason to believe they might take a break over the holidays. While our electrical technicians don’t provide anti-scam services, we’ve certainly heard about these scams from our customers, so we’ll tell you what we know.

Electric Utility Telephone Scams Prevalent

If someone claiming they are from your electric utility provider calls you, be wary. Electric utility telephone scams are prevalent in the Tallahassee area, with several different fake calls designed to get your money or steal your identity. The callers often sound professional and say everything you might expect a utility representative to say. They might state their name and title and provide an ID number, and your phone’s caller ID might even falsely display the utility company’s name and/or phone number. Typical scams include:

  • They inform you that your account is delinquent and demand immediate payment to prevent power disconnection. These callers usually request payment by wire transfer or through the purchase of a prepaid card.
  • They tell you that you have overpaid for services and need your bank or credit card information to issue you a refund.
  • They request personal information—Social Security numbers, banking information, date of birth, etc.—to update your utility account information.
  • They say you are eligible for federal funding or a rebate to help pay your utility bill, and they need important personal information to help you apply for it.

In general, the only reason your electric utility might call you is to confirm a service appointment that you previously scheduled or inform you about a planned service outage in your area. Electric utility representatives will never demand payment over the telephone or request your personal information. Thus, if a caller who says he’s from your utility company asks for either, feel free to hang up on them.

Similar Electric Utility Scams Can Be Initiated by Email or Text

The same scams used in telephone calls can arrive in your email inbox and/or as a cellphone text message. Fake emails can look very professional and include the utility company’s logo and other realistic-looking details. Do not respond to such emails, click on any links, or call any listed telephone numbers. Instead, get your utility company’s telephone number from a recent bill and directly contact the company about the email. No electric utility will request payment or ask for personal information via text message, so delete any such texts you receive.

Double-Check the ID of Any In-Person Utility Representatives

Unless you have prescheduled electric utility service at your home, be wary of representatives who come to your door, even if they are wearing what seems to be the correct company clothing with logos. A utility worker or contractor might knock on your door to inform you that work in the immediate area might impact your service. If that’s the only reason for their visit, it’s probably legit. However, if they seek access to your home, payment for a new meter or other equipment, ask for personal information (and even your latest power bill) or try to sell you a service or product, it’s a potential scam in the works. In all such cases, you should deny them entry, ask to see their company identification and contact the utility company to verify their identity.

If the representative is fake, they might try to get you to talk to the company via their cellphone or by a number they provide. Don’t do it. Instead, politely ask them to wait a minute, shut and lock the door, and contact your electric utility provider using the telephone number on a recent bill. If the representative was a scammer, they’ll probably be long gone by the time your utility company informs you that the person is not one of their employees or contractors.

Contact Meeks to Install Your Security Camera System

Meeks Electrical Services trusts that you’ll get through the holiday season without having to contend with any of the above-mentioned electric utility company scams or, for that matter, any of the 12 other scams of the season highlighted by our attorney general. We can’t help you resolve any scams but we stand ready to help you with any electrical needs in the Tallahassee area. For residential or business electrical services, contact Meeks today at (850) 575-3201.

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