Holiday Season Means Busy Season for Con Artists
As the hustle of the holidays approach, Salt River Project reminds its customers that professional scam artists often prey during hectic seasons in an attempt to swindle distracted, unsuspecting victims.
For the fourth consecutive year, SRP joins Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) for the annual Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of a weeklong National Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers.
UUAS, a consortium of more than 140 U.S. and Canadian electric, water and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
"As scam artists become more aggressive and sophisticated in their techniques, utility companies throughout the nation - including SRP - work daily to educate customers and derail scammers," said Michael Mendonca, SRP senior director of Customer Services. "Recently we have seen an increase in requested payments through payment channels SRP does not offer such as bitcoin or cryptocurrency and in-person scam attempts. It's important to SRP that our customers and the community are informed to remain safe and unharmed."
Every day, concerned customers call SRP's Contact Center representatives to report scam activity. In 2019, more than $17,000 were paid out to scammers by commercial customers and close to $10,000 by residential customers.
"Utilities United Against Scams wants to stress that anyone from small business owners to senior citizens can fall victim to a utility imposter scam; in fact roughly 60 percent of scams reported to our members are from business customers," said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. "Education is the best way to stop these fraudulent scams."
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact SRP and law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission's website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other details regarding impostor scams. Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips on how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams.
SRP practices and customer safety tips:
- Be alert: scammers call, text and email utility customers daily posing as the utility and demanding immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. SRP will never send a single notification to a customer within one hour of a service interruption or ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card or any form of cryptocurrency.
- Check your mail: Past-due notices are mailed before disconnection occurs.
- If a call or email about your account seems suspicious, call SRP, and check your account online at srpnet.com/myaccount or through the SRP Power App to verify details.
- SRP does not collect payments in person.
- SRP employees only enter a customer's home upon request or when there is a scheduled appointment for official company business.
- SRP employees will also wear a shirt with an SRP logo, carry an official badge and drive an official vehicle that is clearly marked.
- If uncomfortable, ask to see a company badge or call to find out if there is an employee in the area or dispatched to a specific home. Call SRP at (602) 236-8888 (in English) or (602) 236-1111 (in Spanish).
SRP's Contact Centers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
- For more information about protecting yourself from con artists, visit www.srpnet.com/scam.
- For SRP scam awareness information, visit www.srpnet.com/scam or www.misrp.com/estafa.
- Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips.
- Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, visit www.bbb.org/scamtracker.
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.