Even Utility Bills Can Contain Information that Scammers Can Use
AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) and its companies, including United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas, urge customers to think twice before sharing personal or financial information. AVANGRID and its companies have received reports of people going door-to-door, claiming to represent energy companies and asking to see customers’ bills. In some cases, they have reportedly claimed they need to “verify” the address and other information.
“In this day and age, you should guard your personal and financial information as closely as you guard your wallet and valuables,” said Bill Reis, vice president for customer care for the Connecticut companies. “Your energy bill contains information someone could use to alter your account or switch you to another energy supplier. You shouldn’t share it with anyone unless you have a legitimate business relationship with them.”
If a visitor or caller claims to represent UI, SCG or CNG, customers can confirm by calling the phone number listed on their monthly bill or the company website. UI, SCG and CNG do not engage in door-to-door sales, and rarely make unexpected visits outside of emergencies. Their employees always carry ID.
Customers also should be alert to scams where people claiming to represent trusted utilities threaten to disconnect service unless the customer makes an immediate payment. The scammers often demand payment via nonstandard methods such as wire transfer or difficult-to-trace prepaid credit cards — a sure sign something’s amiss.
UI, SCG and CNG notify customers well in advance if there is a possibility of loss of service for non-payment, and they provide a specific shut-off date. They offer a variety of plans and options to help customers get caught up, and they accept multiple forms of payment.
AVANGRID offered the following tips:
- Ask for identification and verify it before you let anyone in your house. Employees of AVANGRID companies always display ID. Those with regular in-person customer contact also generally wear uniforms and drive company vehicles.
- Know the signs of a scam. A demand for immediate payment, particularly if it comes with a threat of disconnection or involves an unusual payment scheme, is a red flag.
- Don’t share personal or financial information, including utility bills, with anyone unless you have a business relationship with them, or plan to establish one.
- Check your current electric supplier, which is displayed on your monthly electric bill. If you use an alternate supplier, make sure it is the one listed on the bill.
- If you use the online My Account solution for UI, SCG or CNG, check your personal profile for any information that’s outdated or inaccurate.
- Beware of “phishing” emails designed to trick you into providing confidential information or downloading malware. These may appear to come from a legitimate source, but there may be clues something’s amiss, such as an unfamiliar return address, misspelled words or inappropriate logos. If you’re not sure, discard the email without providing any information or clicking any links.
- If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, report it to police.