ABILENE, Texas (News Release) — AEP Texas has learned that new round of utility scams have begun along with the new year. Persons claiming to be AEP Texas employees are contacting businesses and residents threatening to disconnect their electric service unless an immediate payment is made. AEP Texas is not making these calls. Don’t be a victim.
In some cases, individuals are either calling or going door-to-door telling residents or businesses that their electric meter needs to be changed out and asking for either a deposit or payment to complete the process and avoid disconnection of service.
The attempted scams this week have targeted west Texas; however, the attempts are expected to move to other parts of the AEP Texas service territory.
AEP Texas employees do not proactively contact customers demanding payment to replace an electric meter. AEP Texas periodically replaces meters; however, AEP Texas employees do not seek payment in order to remove and replace the meter.
Thieves are calling consumers within the AEP Texas service territory and:
- Threatening to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made; (Note: As an energy delivery company, AEP Texas does not bill the end-use customer. The end-use customer is billed by the Retailer Electric Provider. AEP Texas disconnects customers for non-payment as instructed by the Retail Electric Provider.)
- Telling customers they need a new electric meter, but must make a payment before the new meter is installed;
- Demanding a deposit is paid immediately;
- Offering a discount on their utility bill if they sign up for auto-pay (Note: Again, as a distribution and transmission, or “Wires” company, AEP Texas does not bill the end-use customer.)
More Red flags for scam activity
- 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 to AEP Texas.
- The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
- The scammers are calling from numbers that names either AEP or AEP Texas on the Caller ID. Moreover, they have a telephone recording that sounds like an AEP Texas phone system message. Calling the number left on the recording connects the customer with the person or persons attempting the scam—not AEP Texas.
How to protect yourself
- Call your Retail Electric Provider to verify your account balance and date your payment is due. The correct phone number is shown on your monthly electricity bill. Calling a number left on phone message may connect you with the scammer—not your Retail Electric Provider.
- The Retail Electric Provider–not AEP Texas–will notify customers that their account is past due and their electric service will be disconnected – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, hang up and call the local police and then AEP Texas. Never dial the phone number the scammers provide.
- Customers, who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these thieves, should contact local authorities, and then AEP Texas at 1- 877-373-4858.
AEP Texas continues to educate customers about scams through messages on AEPTexas.com, through social media and public service announcements. AEP Texas also is working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers.
For more information visit https://aeptexas.com/StopScams or follow AEP Texas on Twitter, and Facebook to learn more.