National Consumer Protection Week
SRP Urges Customers to Be Aware and Avoid Being Victimized
National Consumer Protection Week runs March 3-9, and Salt River Project is continuing its efforts to educate customers on guarding themselves against imposter utility scams.
“We are honored to take part in a national effort to educate consumers about scams, and we emphasize to our customers that scammers work round-the-clock all year to prey on unsuspecting victims,” said Michael Mendonca, SRP senior director of Customer Services. “According to recent research, in 2019 nearly half of all mobile phone calls will be scams. At SRP, we are doing all we can to educate our customers.”
In an effort to protect and educate its customers, SRP is an active member of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of 125 U.S. and Canadian electric, water and natural gas companies and their respective trade associations, which works across the industry with regulators, law enforcement and other telecommunications partners to stop scams targeting utility customers.
In 2018, UUAS and its member companies helped to shut down more than 2,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers to target utility customers. In October, the group was awarded the Toll-Free Industry’s Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaigns to stop scams. UUAS is supporting National Consumer Protection Week and the Federal Trade Commission’s weeklong advocacy and awareness campaign by reinforcing its efforts to expose the tactics scammers use to steal money from utility customers and by educating customers on how to protect themselves.
“Organizations join Utilities United Against Scams to help protect their customers and communities against fraud, and the impact of the coalition’s efforts to combat impostor utility scams is evident,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. “The amount of fraudulent toll-free numbers reported by utilities account for roughly half of all numbers reported. In addition to our work shutting down fraudulent toll-free numbers, UUAS also will continue to highlight the most common scam tactics and will provide resources to help utility customers better protect themselves from impostor utility scammers.”
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct a customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- 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 utility 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.
- If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email or shut the door. They should call their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company’s website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
- When in doubt, hang up the phone 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.
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.