ComEd is warning customers to be on the alert for scam artists claiming to be a ComEd representative seeking payment.
Over the last few weeks, the company has seen a tremendous increase in reports from small businesses and some residential customers who have been contacted by scam artists. From November to December 2015, ComEd saw a 260 percent jump in the number of reported scams. When compared to December 2014, the number of reported impersonations increased more than eight times the previous year’s figure.
Scammers are contacting customers by phone and in-person claiming to be ComEd representatives and telling them their service will be disconnected unless payment is made. They instruct the individual to wire funds or buy a prepaid credit card and call them back with the personal identification number (PIN). Variations of the scam include stories that the customer’s billing cycle has changed and payment is needed immediately, or that 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.
“ComEd wants to protect its customers from these types of deceptive schemes. It’s not current practice for ComEd to ask a customer to purchase a prepaid credit card or to make a payment on a bill,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd. “If customers are ever unsure about the status of their accounts, they should always contact ComEd for verification.”
ComEd is committed to keeping our customers informed and provides scam alert information via a variety of communications channels including website, social media outlets, press notifications and direct marketing materials. As a result of the heightened scam reports, the company will look at increasing its communication efforts and continue working with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to advise customers on the appropriate way to prevent scam situations.
The ICC is advising customers that in most cases utilities are required to provide advance notice prior to disconnection of service and when in doubt customers should call the utility or visit its website to verify their account status and the utility’s authorized payment methods.
People that believe they have been a target of a phone scam are 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”.