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Company receiving increased reports of ongoing scams across its electric & natural gas companies; urges vigilance
AVANGRID Press Release
AVANGRID, a leading sustainable energy company and member of the Iberdrola Group, is urging customers of its electric and natural gas companies to be vigilant of scammers posing as company representatives. The company has recently received reports of customers having accepted calls from people who claim to be employees or consultants of its subsidiaries. Customers are urged to never give out personal or account information to unsolicited callers.
“Scammers are a perpetual threat to our customers, and we urge everyone to be vigilant to protect themselves and their families,” said Pedro Azagra, CEO of AVANGRID. “We’ve noticed a recent uptick in the number of utility scams attempting to defraud our customers. I urge anyone who has a question about the authenticity of a caller or any other communication claiming to be from our company to immediately contact us. Our customer service team is always one call away and we are here to help.”
AVANGRID has recorded new reports of utility scams across its subsidiaries, which include Berkshire Gas, Central Maine Power, Connecticut Natural Gas, New York State Electric & Gas, Rochester Gas and Electric, Southern Connecticut Gas, and United Illuminating Co.
Customers should be aware of some of the known scammer tactics:
√ Fraudulent phone numbers: Caller ID may show the call is coming from the utility. In some cases, the perpetrators seem to have specific knowledge about the customers they’re calling, and may even provide a callback number with a recorded greeting similar to the energy company’s customer service line.
√ Fraudulent emails and texts: Scammers are using digital correspondence to portray themselves as the utility.
√ Door-to-door imposters: Scammers are claiming they are responding to reports that scammers are in the neighborhood.
Types of scams that customers should look out for include:
√ Disconnection threat: Someone posing as a utility representative aggressively tells the customer their account is past due and a crew is on the way to shut off service unless an immediate payment is made – typically using a prepaid debit card or another non-refundable form of payment.
√ Meter payment: The caller or in-person scammer instructs the customer to pay with cash or a prepaid debit card to cover the costs of a new meter or meter upgrade.
√ Information request: The caller insists that a recent payment encountered a system glitch and was not completed, or that the company had not received the payment at all. The perpetrator then asks the customer to make a false payment using a prepaid debit card or by providing personal account information.
Safety tips for customers:
√ Know the available payment methods: AVANGRID companies will never demand customers purchase debit cards such as Green Dot cards to make payments. All AVANGRID companies accept a variety of payment methods, and customer care representatives will work with individual customers to help them pay down outstanding balances and maintain service.
√ Ask for account information: If unsure of the identity of the caller, ask for the last five digits of the account. If they do not have this information, hang up and alert local authorities. Never give out personal or account information to a caller.
√ Check ID: AVANGRID employees and contractors carry company-issued photo ID with a unique employee number. Ask for ID before providing personal or account information or granting access to your property. If you are not certain, call to confirm using the number on your bill or the company’s website.
√ Be on alert for unexpected emails: Be suspicious of unexpected emails from AVANGRID companies, especially if you’re not an eBill customer, and think twice before clicking links. If you’re not certain, you can make credit card payments, check balances and find other information directly the company’s website.
√ Enroll in AutoPay: The amount due is automatically deducted from a bank account each month, so customers will have no concerns about an outstanding balance. More information on this payment option is available on the company’s website. If making a payment by phone, always use the companies’ automated services phone numbers.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should notify their utility, local law enforcement authorities, and the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov/). This will help authorities shut down scams and prosecute the scammers.
For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.