FPUA Recognizes Utility Scam Awareness Week
Next week, November 16-20, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority (FPUA) is joining with Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) and public power utilities across the state to recognize Utility Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers. Throughout the week, FPUA will be highlighting common scams through its Facebook page and website.
Some common utility scams include:
• A utility imposter aggressively telling the customer that his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if immediate payment is not made typically through a pre-paid debit card or some other form of non-refundable payment.
• The caller or in-person scammer instructs the customer to pay with cash or pre-paid debit card to cover the cost of a new meter or meter upgrade.
• The caller insists that a recent payment encountered a system glitch and was not processed. The scammer then asks the customer to make a false payment using a pre-paid debit card or by providing personal account information, such as a credit card number.
“There have always been bad actors looking to take advantage of others, but since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an uptick in scammers seeking to exploit people dealing with the challenges and heightened anxiety the pandemic has brought,” said Gina Morris, FPUA Customer Service Manager. “By creating awareness of utility scams and sharing information about the tactics scammers typically use, we hope to keep our customers protected and safe from scams.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person tactics and are contacting utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. As a reminder, FPUA will never send a single notification to a customer within one hour of a service interruption, and we will never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency, or third-party digital payment mobile applications.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact FPUA Customer Service at 772.466.1600, ext. 3900 or law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other information regarding impostor scams.
Utility Scam Awareness Week is spearheaded by UUAS, a consortium of more than 145 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations.