OUC wants to make customers aware of a variety of scams that frequently target utility customers. An OUC representative will never request payment or ask for your bank or credit card information over the phone. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of any call, email or visit from someone claiming to be from OUC, especially one in which payment is requested, you should contact us directly at email@example.com or 407-423-9018 in Orlando/Orange County or 407-957-7373 in St. Cloud/Osceola County. Being well informed can help you detect suspicious behavior and ultimately help you to avoid a scam. Below are a few of the latest scams that could affect you. Call your local law enforcement if you suspect any of these:
Green Dot MoneyPak/Phone Scams
This scam targets small commercial businesses and attempts to collect payment. The scheme works like this: Customers receive a call telling them their electric service is scheduled for immediate disconnection and they need to make a payment by purchasing a "Green Dot MoneyPak" at a local convenience store. The "Green Dot MoneyPak" card is a temporary pre-paid credit card. After the customer purchases the card, he is told to call back and provide a receipt and PIN number. Once that information is obtained, the money on the card is then transferred to those behind the scheme. In another type of phone scam, customers should also beware of messages left with a call-back number beginning with 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 or 888.
Utilities also report scams in which someone shows up at a home pretending to be on a service call. Recently, someone was going door-to-door claiming they are selling solar panels on behalf of OUC and asking for money.
OUC does not conduct door-to-door sales. Field technicians occasionally distribute informational door hangers or knock on doors from time to time based on operational needs. For example they may need to gain access to OUC equipment in the right-of-way that may be located behind your home. All OUC employees and contractors are required to wear and display ID badges.
If you do not have a scheduled appointment with an OUC technician and if you doubt the identification of the person, do not allow them into your home or on your property. Contact OUC immediately to verify whether the person is in fact a utility employee. If you do not have a scheduled appointment, we strongly advise you to not open the door. And if you do have an appointment, always ask to see a valid ID. In most instances, scammers will quickly depart if you inform them you are calling to confirm their identity.
Bottom line: If you are contacted by phone, email or other communication claiming to be from OUC and requesting your social security number, username or password, do not respond in any manner. OUC will notify customers at least a week in advance before disconnecting their service for non-payment. Please call law enforcement if you experience any of the situations above.
Federal Assistance Scam
The scam features a phony nationwide program that promises to credit or pay utility bills in exchange for personal information, including social security numbers. The scam, which has been reported in a number of states, claims that President Barack Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. Customers are also being reached by text messages, social media and email.
Online Bill-Pay Scam
Another involves emails containing mock links to online bills and asks for additional information before collecting payment. If you receive your bills online, compare your latest emails, and beware of links that redirect you to other websites. Remember, you can safely view your bills online by logging directly into your myOUC account.
5 tips to help avoid a scam:
- Use good judgment. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Beware of statements that call for immediate action such as, “you must act now” or “you must send money, give a credit card or bank account number now.”
- Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”
- Never give your credit card number or social security number over the telephone unless you initiated the call.
- Don’t ever let strangers into your home, unless you have called for a service appointment. And, always make sure to check for proper identification before allowing anybody to enter your home or property.
Check out FBI’s website for more tips on how to avoid a scam.