Beware of scams targeting utility customers
There are instances when criminals target utility customers, claiming to be a representative of the utility in order to scam unsuspecting people into sharing sensitive personal information.
In some cases, scammers call a customer claiming to be a utility employee, asking for bill payment over the phone or in person, and threatening to disconnect electric or natural gas service if the targeted customer does not cooperate.
In other instances, scammers target businesses, claiming to be a representative of the utility. According to Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the caller contacts a business owner, indicating a payment must be made within a short period of time (30 minutes) before a technician will arrive to disconnect service if they do not pay.
LG&E and KU urge customers to be vigilant when it comes to these scams and offer the following advice to help residential and business customers identify and avoid falling victim to scams.
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.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s 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 at here.
- First check with LG&E and KU if you’re suspicious: Customers who receive a suspicious 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.
If customers have been impacted by a scam, they should immediately report it to their local police department.
Obtain positive identification
LG&E and KU also encourage customers to always obtain positive identification if someone appears at their door stating he or she is there on the utilities' behalf.
Authentic LG&E and KU ID badges — whether issued to an employee or a contractor — show the utilities' logos. An employee ID card always has the employee's name and color photograph on the front as well.
Sometimes there are legitimate service-related reasons the utilities may need access to a customer's home, but in-person contact at a customer's home never involves collecting payment for a monthly bill.