As the holiday season approaches, ComEd recognizes Utility Scam Awareness Day, Nov. 18, by reminding customers to be on the lookout for imposters using energy-related scams to steal money and personal information.
Since 2017, customer reports of scams and scam attempts into ComEd’s call center have increased 60 percent. With the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, imposters are taking advantage of the situation to also pressure families and businesses who may be struggling with past-due balances.
“Every year, imposters get more sophisticated in their attempts to steal money or financial information from our customers,” said Nichole Owens, ComEd vice president of customer channels. “Utility Scam Awareness Day shines a national spotlight on ways customers can protect themselves from fraudulent activity that could jeopardize their electric service or financial information, especially during the holidays when many people are focused on family and social commitments.”
Common schemes involve imposters posing as ComEd employees to gain entry to a customer’s home to steal belongings. Some scammers, using technology to make their calls appear to come from a ComEd phone number, threaten to turn off a customer’s service unless they make a direct payment with a prepaid cash card. In other attempts, scammers send emails to businesses and request that they send ComEd payments to bogus payment sites.
Here are some tips to help identify scams
1. ComEd will never come to a customer’s home or business to:
Demand a payment.
Ask for immediate payment with a prepaid cash card.
Ask for their ComEd account number or other personal information, such as a driver’s license number.
2. ComEd will never call a customer to:
Ask for their account number.
Ask for personal information such as their Social Security number or bank information.
Ask them to make a direct payment with a prepaid cash card.
3. To identify an actual ComEd employee, remember:
All ComEd field employees wear a uniform with the ComEd logo, including shirt and safety vest.
ComEd employees visibly display a company ID badge with the ComEd logo and employee’s name.
A ComEd worker may knock on a customer’s door if they are unable to access equipment, such as the meter or pedestal transformer. If any customer is unsure whether a visitor or caller is a ComEd employee or believes he or she has been a target or victim of a scam, call 1-800-EDISON-1 (1-800-334-7661) immediately. To learn more, visit ComEd.com/ScamAlert.
Tips for business customers
ComEd is also seeing an increase in energy-related scam attempts targeting businesses. Offenders impersonate the names of ComEd and other trusted organizations in email or other communications. Their intention is to deceive businesses into providing personal and financial information or acting on urgent requests for payment.
To help protect a business from cyber-scams:
Carefully review emails originating from outside your organization’s network.
Check the name of the sender and business and make sure it matches the name and business in the email address. Look for misspellings or slight alterations.
Make a call to verify the email was sent from a trusted source. Use a phone number from the business’ records or the sending company’s official website and not the number provided in the email.
Confirm that everything looks legitimate especially when a request can have major effects for your company, such as transferring large amounts of money.
Hover over website links before clicking to confirm the legitimacy of the site.
Bill-payment assistance to help customers avoid scam attempts
“ComEd also understands that COVID-19 continues to create economic hardship for many customers,” said Owens. “This is why we continue to suspend service disconnections for low-income customers and those who express a financial hardship through March 31, 2021.”
ComEd also offers a number of bill-payment assistance programs, including flexible payment options, financial assistance for past-due balances and usage alerts for current bills. Any customer who is experiencing a hardship or difficulty with their electric bill should call ComEd immediately at 1-800-334-7661 (1-800-EDISON-1), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to learn more and enroll in a program. For more information, visit ComEd.com/PaymentAssistance.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 100 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the U.S. ComEd powers the lives of more than 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, Instagram and YouTube.
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