National Consumer Protection Week: SRP Customers Recently Hit Hard by Scammers
Over the past few weeks, Salt River Project’s Customer Contact Operations Center has seen a marked increase in residential and commercial customers calling to report scams. Last Thursday and Friday alone, customers reported paying close to $4,000 to con artists through prepaid gift cards, Bitcoin, credit and debit cards. The onslaught comes as SRP and organizations across the nation continue to work to educate customers during National Consumer Protection Week (March 1-7).
“SRP employees diligently work to educate customers to guard themselves against imposter utility scams. It is a daily fight because scammers are aggressive, which is one reason SRP takes part in national efforts to educate consumers about scams,” said Glen Traasdahl, SRP director of Customer Contact Operations. “We routinely emphasize to our customers that scammers work around-the-clock all year to prey on unsuspecting victims.”
Last week alone, SRP received more than three dozen scam reports. Most attempts to steal money were done by phone, but one customer did report an in-person scam, stating that a man was going door-to-door and asked to see the customer’s meter. The con artist then offered “to sell more efficient SRP equipment and price plans.”
In a continual effort to protect and educate its customers, SRP is an active member of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of 146 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations. UUAS works across industries with regulators, law enforcement and telecommunications partners to stop scams targeting utility customers. UUAS and its member companies such as SRP continue to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and, to date, have helped to cease operations of more than 6,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
"Scammers can rob customers of their hard-earned money and, in a worst-case scenario, leave them struggling to make ends meet for their household or small business,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. “UUAS helps utility companies educate their customers so they don't fall victim to fraud and scams, and we work to shut down fraudulent toll-free numbers, highlights common scam tactics, and provides resources to customers to help them better protect themselves from scammers who steal their money and their peace of mind.”
It Is A Scam If:
- The unsolicited caller asks to be paid in Bitcoin or a prepaid credit card.
- The caller is aggressive and tells the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service and will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- Even if caller ID shows SRP, it could be a con artist. It is always best to hang up and call SRP directly at (602) 236-8888 (English) or (602) 236-1111 (Spanish). Customers also can check the status of their account anytime at srpnet.com/myaccount, upon enrolling in the program. To learn more, go to srpnet.com/scam or misrp.com/estafa. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
- SRP will never ask customers to make an immediate payment with a prepaid card or Bitcoin. Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
- If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail or email. SRP never sends a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information. The Arizona Attorney General’s office can also assist and has lines available for both English and Spanish speakers. The number is (602) 542-5763.
SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 1 million customers. SRP is also the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 800,000 acre-feet annually to municipal, urban and agricultural water users.