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For Release: 05/07/2015

Illinois Utilities Join Forces to Make Customers Aware of Scam Artists

Warmer temperatures lead to increased scam activity

Chicago, IL – The arrival of warmer temperatures are always welcomed, but sometimes they also bring about an increase in unwelcomed solicitations by scam artists. ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are joining forces to warn Illinois customers to be on alert for scam artists posing as utility representatives.

The Better Business Bureau states that the number of reported scams generally rises with warmer weather. Nationally, there has been an uptick in people claiming to be utility company workers over the past several years. In fact, they are scam artists who pose as utility workers and who usually target customers through door-to-door visits and phone calls.

With the door-to-door scams, someone impersonating a utility worker will visit customers' homes looking to get personal and/or account information, and in some cases enter into the customer's home. Variations of the phone scam include stories that the customer's billing cycle has changed and payment is needed immediately; the account is past due and immediate payment is required to avoid disconnection of service; or that the customer's previous payments were not accepted or processed. In those cases, the scammers instruct customers to buy a prepaid credit card and direct them to call back with the personal identification number (PIN).

"We want our customers to be informed and avoid becoming victims to this type of scam. That's why we have teamed up with Peoples, North Shore and Nicor Gas to shine a light on this fraudulent activity and create a greater awareness amongst all of our customers," said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd.

"Safety for people, pipelines and the public is always our number-one priority," said Jim Griffin, vice president for operations, Nicor Gas. "In addition to our commitment to the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas, we take seriously the protection of our customer's personal information. We are aware of and continually monitor scams that could negatively impact the communities we serve."

"Raising awareness of possible scams is one way we aim to protect our customers and their personal information from fraudsters and identity theft," said Larry Szumski, vice president, Customer Relations. "We urge our customers to contact their utility or the police if there is any doubt a caller or worker is genuine."

The utility companies also are reminding customers that representatives from their company always carry proper identification and never ask customers for cash or personal financial information.

"Fighting scams and rip-offs requires a unified effort from the entire community," Illinois CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. "We're asking everybody to be their own best consumer advocates. Tell your neighbors to be skeptical anytime a person calls or knocks on the door claiming to be from the electric or gas company. Utility workers will never go door-to-door or call you seeking personal financial information."

Anyone who believes he or she has been a target of a phone scam is urged to contact the Illinois Attorney General's office toll free at 1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013) or visit the Illinois Attorney General's website and click on the link "Protecting Consumers."

Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:

  • Never provide social security or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than your local utility providers.
  • Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business.
  • When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to the door.
  • If customers have concerns about the status of their account, they can also contact their local utility providers.

For More Information, Contact:

  • Peoples Gas
    866-556-6001
     
  • North Shore Gas
    866-556-6004
     
  • ComEd
    1-800-EDISON1
     
  • Nicor Gas
    1-888-NICOR4U