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ComEd Media Relations

Illinois Utilities Join National Effort to Help Protect Customers from Scammers

First-ever "Utilities United Against Scams Day" brings together dozens of utilities from across the United States and Canada

CHICAGO (November 16, 2016) – Illinois utilities – ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, and North Shore Gas – have joined forces with dozens of natural gas and electric utility companies across the United States and Canada, including other Exelon utilities Atlantic City Electric, BGE, Delmarva, PECO, and Pepco, to help protect customers from wide-spread scams targeting customers of utility service providers.

The cohort, known as Utilities United Against Scams collaboration, have designated November 16th as "Utilities United Against Scams Day." This day will be supported by a week-long campaign with content focused on exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers, and how customers can protect themselves. The collaborative encourages the public to share these messages to help guard against scam activity.

"ComEd is committed to helping our customers avoid becoming victims to these fraudulent scams and we're glad be a part of this important national awareness campaign," said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd.  "Over the past year we have seen a tremendous increase in phone impersonations where scam artists call customers claiming to a utility representative. By joining with other utilities in Illinois and across the country, we are raising greater awareness among our customers and hopefully putting an end to these scams once and for all."

"Safety is our number-one value, and this important awareness effort exemplifies our commitment to safety," said Jim Griffin, vice president of Operations, Nicor Gas. "Raising awareness and informing customers of these dangerous scammers is critical in putting a stop to their predatory and fraudulent tactics."

"Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas care about the safety of our customers," said Michelle Rindt, vice president – customer service, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. "Raising awareness of possible scams and educating our customers are a few ways we aim to protect them and their personal information from scammers."

When being scammed, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a utility representative. The scammer warns that the customer's service will be disconnected if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe.

Scammers have even duplicated the upfront Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller ID spoofing to replicate a customer service number.

Red flags for scam activity

  • The thief becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn't made – usually within less than an hour.
  • The thief instructs the customer to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card – widely available at retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card's receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card's funds.

How to protect customers

  • Utility representatives will never ask or require a customer with a delinquent account to immediately purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
  • Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
  • If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police then call your local utility. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.

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 web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov and click on the link "Protecting Consumers."

Don't Get Scammed: 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:
  • ComEd 1-800-EDISON1
  • Nicor Gas 1-888-NICOR4U
  • Peoples Gas 866-556-6001
  • North Shore Gas 866-556-6004

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Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

Nicor Gas is one of seven natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.1 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit www.nicorgas.com.

 

Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas are both subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) and regulated natural gas delivery companies. Peoples Gas serves approximately 830,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the city of Chicago. North Shore Gas serves approximately 159,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 54 communities within the northern suburbs of Chicago. For more information about natural gas safety, energy efficiency and other energy-related topics, visit northshoregasdelivery.com, or www.peoplesgasdelivery.com.

© Commonwealth Edison Company, 2017. All Rights Reserved.