'Tis the season for making merry...and unfortunately, it's also the season for scammers. They are opportunist, and with holiday closures, skeleton crews and the Covid-19 pandemic, they are out in full force. In one weekend in December, LPEA received 15 calls from members reporting that a scammer had impersonated the utility and threatened to turn off their power if payment was not received immediately.
As a reminder, LPEA will NEVER call or come to your home in person demanding payment or confidential information and threatening to shut off your power. We have your information and will never request this information.
According to the Federal Trade Commissions’ “Consumer Sentinel Network,” a report released February 2019, of the 1.4 million fraud reports they received, imposter scams were number one on the list.
Nearly one in five people lost money to imposter scams, a reported $488 million was reported lost, while the median loss was $500. That’s a total of 535,417 reports constituting 17.88 percent of all loss. Sixty-nine percent of these fraud reports indicated that phone was the contact method used, and utility thefts rose 20 percent over the prior year.
Imposter scams are listed number one in the top 10 fraud categories with a whopping 36,090 being reported to the tune of $34 million a year, with Colorado ranking 12th in the number of reports per capita. One third of the individuals who lost money were 80 years of age and older. According to AARP's Fraud Watch Network, the scammers use techniques that are anonymous, quick and irretrievable. This data is aligned with the tactics used by utility scammers.
For example, a scammer calls and says, “You’re in trouble and you need to do something about it,” says Monica Vaca, Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Consumer Response and Operations. “People tend to get really nervous and tend to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”
And that is precisely how people fall victim to such scams, including threats to shut off power if payment is not received by phone.
Here's a video with three tips on what you can do to prevent scams: https://youtu.be/uyNutHT_pH0
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can also help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free Watchdog Alerts, review their scam-tracking map, or call their toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.
Report complaints of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov/complaint.
LPEA Customer Service Representatives can be reached at (970) 247-5786 during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. for clarification of any billing questions. As always, our emergency services are available 24/7.