SOUTH BEND, Ind., – Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) reminds customers to be alert for scams ahead of Utility Scam Awareness Day, which is tomorrow, Nov. 15. I&M and our parent company American Electric Power (AEP), is joining Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), along with hundreds of electric, water and natural gas companies to raise awareness of common utility scams.
“With the holidays approaching, this is a high-risk time for many of our customers to be targeted by scammers,” said Katie Davis, vice president of External Affairs and Customer Experience. “We want to remind customers to be alert and how to recognize scams to avoid falling victim to fraud.”
Since the start of 2023, I&M has received more than 150 reports of scam attempts targeting our customers. Often times, scammers will call or text customers with Caller ID showing the utility company’s name.
Here are the four most common utility scams:
- Personal information. Criminals agree to mail checks for overpayments on an account if they confirm their personal data, including birthdays, addresses and Social Security numbers.
- Threat to disconnect. Scammers will call saying a customer’s utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected – usually within 30 minutes – if a payment is not made. I&M will provide multiple notices and help customers with payment plan options before service interruptions.
- Mobile Banking or Gift Card Payments. A scam artist says you need to make immediate payment through a mobile banking app. I&M will never ask for payments using a pre-paid debit card, gift card or third-party mobile applications.
- New meter refund. Criminals have started telling homeowners they need to pay for a new meter and make the payment before the meter is installed.
“Our top tip is to end the call and then call I&M to report the scam attempt,” Davis said. “Scammers have sophisticated tactics and by ending the call you end their scam. If you are unsure if it’s a scam or want to confirm the status of your account, you can call the number found on your bill or on our website to be connected to a customer service specialist.”
In-person scammers may try to fool customers in the same way as over the phone with threats of shutting off service and demanding immediate payment. Never let someone into your home unless you verify their identity or have a scheduled appointment. I&M employees’ uniforms vary, but often times they will have the company logo visible, be in a vehicle with the company logo and carry a company identification card, which you should request to see.
If you receive a call that sounds like a scam or have a visit from someone claiming to be with I&M, please call the police and report the incident to us by calling 1-800-311-4634.
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Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its approximately 2,000 employees serve more than 600,000 customers. More than 80% of its energy delivered in 2022 was emission-free. I&M has at its availability various sources of generation including 2,278 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan, 450 MW of purchased wind generation from Indiana, more than 22 MW of hydro generation in both states and approximately 35 MW of large-scale solar generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 1,497 MW of coal-fueled generation.
American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is powering a cleaner, brighter energy future for its customers and communities. AEP’s approximately 17,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 225,000 miles of distribution lines to safely deliver reliable and affordable power to 5.6 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 30,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including more than 7,000 megawatts of renewable energy. The company’s plans include growing its renewable generation portfolio to approximately 50% of total capacity by 2032. AEP is on track to reach an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and has committed to achieving net zero by 2045. AEP is recognized consistently for its focus on sustainability, community engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas and the Texas Panhandle). AEP also owns AEP Energy, which provides innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide. For more information, visit aep.com.
Communications Consult Sr.