Scam phone calls are not new to utility companies; LPEA usually sees an increase in scam activity during the holidays. But this year, we are seeing an even greater increase due to vulnerabilities exposed by COVID-19.
Every day, millions of people are making difficult choices about how to pay their bills. As COVID-19 continues to spread, scammers are taking advantage of people’s heightened economic anxiety. Their latest ploy is posing as representatives from utility companies to trick people out of their cash and personal information by convincing them their utilities will be shut off if they don’t pay.
“This time of the year is ideal for scammers to target electric utility customers,” said Aubrey Gillespie, LPEA Customer Service Supervisor. “They use federal holiday closures to their advantage. Our members should be suspicious of any phone calls received after business hours from individuals claiming to represent LPEA,” added Aubrey.
LPEA has recently received a number of calls from members reporting these types of suspicious calls, and they happen more frequently during non-business hours like the weekends. The scammer impersonates LPEA and threatens the caller by saying their electricity will be shut off if they don’t receive immediate payment in the form of a credit card or bank account information. Please know that LPEA will never ask you for personal financial information over the phone.
If someone calls your home or cell phone demanding you pay your electric bill immediately, gather as much information as you can from that individual, hang-up, and contact the local authorities. Scammers use threats and urgency to pressure you into giving them your bank account number or loading a pre-paid credit or debit card. Again, do not give out this information over the phone. If someone comes to your home claiming to be an employee of LPEA saying they need to collect money or inspect parts of your property, call us to verify if they are an employee. If they are not, call local authorities for assistance and do not let the individual into your home.
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.
The LPEA offices in Durango and Pagosa Springs will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. No disconnects will be conducted during this time. LPEA members have the option to view account status, pay your electric utility bill, report service issues, and contact LPEA using the SmartHub application available at lpea.smarthub.coop.
If you have any doubts about your utility bill, contact us at 970-247-5786.