The holiday season is a time for goodwill and kindness, and spending time with family and loved ones. Unfortunately, all that good cheer makes it a perfect time for scammers to prey on unsuspecting victims. And while it is the season of giving, Gulf Power reminds customers not to give out any personal information to any unidentified callers or let any unannounced visitors into their home.

“Unfortunately, the holiday season sometimes makes for easy pickings for fraudsters, who like to make the most of the festive season by coming up with ever more ingenious ways to target consumers during the holidays,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson. “We’ve seen a slight increase of scam activity in our service territory, so we want our customers to be aware that scammers don’t take a holiday.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens, low-income communities, and those whose second language is English. For utility customers, the scam involves residential and business customers being told their energy bill is past due and that their power will be cut off if the customer does not provide a credit card payment or other forms of immediate payment.

“Most customers recognize these calls as scams,” added DelaHaya. “If you have any doubts about a caller’s identity, don’t give them any information and call our Customer Care representatives immediately.”

Gulf Power advises customers that:

  • Gulf Power employees will never call a customer at home seeking any personal information, including credit card numbers.
  • Gulf Power representatives will never ask a customer for money when they visit a residence or business.
  • All Gulf Power representatives carry badges with picture identification that includes the employee’s name and the company’s name and logo.

Gulf Power works with law enforcement when customers report these incidents. Customers who think they have been targeted or victimized by scammers are asked to call local law enforcement and to contact Gulf Power at 1-800-225-5797.

Also, don’t let the Grinch ruin your holiday by sneaking away with packages delivered to your doorsteps.  And packages and front doors aren’t the only thing targeted by scammers and thieves, they also target our email inboxes, social media feeds, websites and even cell phones.

The Better Business Bureau offers these top tips for consumers:

  • Fake Amazon, FedEx or UPS delivery notices– They show up in your email, and claim you have a package waiting, or a problem with your delivery. Even if you are expecting a delivery, you need to be very suspicious, and check the URL of the email sender to make sure they are really that business.
  • Look-Alike Websites – Many consumers will see an increase in the number of email alerts announcing deals, gifts, and sales. While mailers can look legitimate, the links may lead to look-alike websites meant to trick you into entering private information or give scammers an opportunity to download malware onto your computer.
  • Free Gift Cards – Who doesn’t love free stuff especially around the holidays? Scammers hope to take advantage of that fondness through phishing emails and pop-up ads offering gift cards. If you come across one of these offers, you should not click the links.
  • Phony Charities – Charities often get a boost this season as consumers are in the giving spirit but scammers seeking to take advantage can pose as charities or needy individuals soliciting donations. Make sure you verify the charity at org.

Read more Better Business Bureau tips on how to avoid holiday scams.