The holiday season is often a popular time for thieves to prey on customers in an attempt to pocket quick cash, and utility customers are a popular target for scammers. Gulf Power joins utilities across the country to partner with Utilities United Against Scams during National Scam Awareness Week, Nov. 17-23, to promote awareness and urge customers to protect themselves.
“Scammers are becoming increasingly bold with their tactics, and technology is making it even easier for them to take advantage of others,” said Sarah Gatewood, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We take the safety of our customers and our employees seriously, and we ask everyone to always be on the lookout for suspicious activity. If you feel something isn’t right, take a moment to visit your account online or call us before responding to a demand for payment.”
Gulf Power wants to help customers recognize some of the common tactics used, and understand how they can protect themselves from being targeted.
Spot a scam:
- Gulf Power will not show up to a customer’s home or business to collect a payment. If an account becomes past due and is subject to disconnection, Gulf Power will contact the customer via a prerecorded message to the primary account telephone and/or by letter requesting that the customer call Gulf Power to discuss the account. The company will never go door-to-door asking for payment.
- Beware of calls and emails demanding immediate payment. Customers have reported that scammers will call, usually in a very aggressive tone, requesting for payment through a credit card, pre-paid debit card, gift card or even wire transfer. Gulf Power will never ask for any form of payment over the phone or through email.
- Gulf Power employees are easy to identify. If a Gulf Power employee has a service-related reason to visit a home or business, customers will in most cases receive notice of the visit in advance and the employee will wear a Gulf Power employee ID badge with their photo, company’s name and logo.
Utilities United Against Scams offers additional tips on how to recognize some common scams.
Stop a scam:
- Don’t make an immediate payment. Customers should never share their credit card or debit card information or purchase a prepaid card or gift card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. The company will not ask customers to pay anywhere other than an authorized payment location.
- Verify the payment request. If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. To verify the payment request, contact Gulf Power at 1-800-225-5797.
- Report the scam. If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, shut the door and contact Gulf Power’s customer service. Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities.