Nov 20, 2019
(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) – Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company are again joining their industry partners in Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to recognize the fourth annual Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, November 20. Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of the week-long National Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers. This year’s theme is ‘It Happened to Me, Don’t Let it Happen to You.’
“We know that perpetrators of scams against utility customers of all kinds continue to become more and more savvy,” said Beth McFarland, LG&E and KU vice president-Customer Services. “With the collective efforts we employ with our UUAS partners, we continue to work to raise awareness of the types of scams targeting customers, to encourage customers to stay vigilant and protect themselves and to put scammers on notice as we keep the safety and security of our customers a top priority for our company.”
UUAS, a consortium of more than 140 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
“While our Utilities United Against Scams consortium has made significant progress during our four years of work to educate and protect customers, the criminals targeting our communities continuously adapt and occasionally fool even the most sophisticated customers. While it is heartbreaking to hear from individuals and businesses who have lost money to scammers, we appreciate their willingness to share their experiences so that others might not fall victim,” said Jared Lawrence, vice president of customer operations at Duke Energy, and UUAS founder and executive committee chair.
"Utilities United Against Scams wants to stress that anyone from small business owner to senior citizen can fall victim to a utility impostor scam, in fact roughly 60 percent of scams reported to our members are from business customers,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez, who was a former regulator at the Michigan Public Service Commission. “Education is the best way to stop these fraudulent scams."
Customers are encouraged to be aware of these signs of potential scam activity.
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company. They may also instruct customers to use a gift card or a form of cryptocurrency.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card or gift card number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
LG&E and KU work with law enforcement investigating these types of crimes and offer the following SAFE advice to residential and business customers.
- Secure your personal information: LG&E and KU will never call and ask for credit or debit card numbers or other personal information.
- Always remember you have bill payment options: LG&E and KU offer customers a variety of official payment options. A complete list can be found here.
- First check with LG&E and KU if you’re suspicious: Customers who receive a suspicious live phone call, an email or letter should call LG&E and KU which will always verify official communications. LG&E customers should call 502-589-1444 (outside Louisville at 1-800-331-7370); KU customers should call 1-800-981-0600.
- Enlist the help of authorities: In addition to contacting the company, customers who suspect they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with scammers, should report it to their local police department.
The Federal Trade Commission website also offers helpful tips for protecting personal information.
Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, part of the PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) family of companies, are regulated utilities that serve nearly 1.3 million customers and have consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. LG&E serves 328,000 natural gas and 414,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. KU serves 555,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. More information is available at www.lge-ku.com and www.pplweb.com.