The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) recognizes Utility Scams Awareness Day presented by Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) on Wednesday, November 16th. The purpose of the campaign is to help educate consumers about how to spot and prevent utility scams. UUAS is an association of over 150 electric, water, and natural gas utilities in the U.S. and Canada united to help avoid imposter scams.
Imposters can target anyone, but they often take advantage of customers who are elderly, non-English speaking, or live in areas that have been affected by a natural disaster. Scammers often pretend they are representatives of utility companies and demand immediate payment to avoid service disconnects. According to the FTC, fraud complaints were received from more than 2.8 million people in 2021, showing a total loss of $5.8 billion, $2.3 billion of which were from impostor scams. Many of these instances are electric, water, or natural gas utility scams targeting vulnerable populations.
“As imposter scams targeting utility customers become more advanced and harder to detect, it’s imperative to educate consumers of all ages about how to avoid them,” said ESFI’s President, Brett Brenner. “Preventing utility scams aligns with ESFI’s goal of designing educational resources to meet the diverse needs of a variety of at-risk groups.”
Learn How to Spot a Utility Scam with These Tips
1. Utility companies do not request payment, or other personal information, over the phone or through email.
2. Utilities do not ask for gift cards, prepaid cards, or money transfers as forms of payment.
3. Utilities will not contact you threatening to disconnect service or ask for immediate payment over the phone or email.
4. Scammers can fake emails or phone numbers. If you have any questions about your account, contact the utility directly using the phone number or email listed on your bill.
5. Have you noticed a scam? Let your utility know. This can happen to you, your loved ones, and your neighbors.
Please visit the UUAS site for more information on Utility Scams Awareness Day and preventing scams. If you would like access to free electrical safety materials, including infographics for preventing utility scams in English and Spanish, visit esfi.org.
ESFI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety at home and the workplace. For more information and to use ESFI’s free resources throughout your community, visit esfi.org.