PINEVILLE, La. – Today is Utility Scam Awareness Day, and Cleco is joining Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) in their advocacy campaign to educate customers and expose the tactics used by scammers. UUAS, a consortium of almost 150 U.S. and Canadian electric, water and natural gas utilities, has successfully helped to take nearly 12,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers out of operation. “Through UUAS, we are able to learn and share new scam tactics with our customers to protect them against scammers,” said Kristi Moore, director of customer operations. “We want our customers to be aware of the types of threats that are out there and to remember that we all could be a target.” “It’s perfectly acceptable for the customer to hang up the phone. The scammer’s initial goal is to pressure their targets and convince them that they work for the utility,” said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. “Scammers are extremely sophisticated in their tactics, and, by simply ending the call, you can end their scam. If you are unsure, you can always call back the utility by dialing the number found on your bill or on their website, and they will provide you with the correct information.” How Cleco customers can protect themselves:
· Slow down Scammers typically try to rush customers and will ask for personal information and immediate payment. Remember the following:
v Cleco will never ask customers for their personal banking information over the phone.
v Cleco will never call customers to demand immediate payment or ask for payments using a pre-paid debit card, gift card, cryptocurrencies or third-party digital payment mobile application.
· Verify Scammers often pose as utility company employees. If customers receive a phone call, text message, email or knock at the door, they should contact Cleco directly to verify the information using one of the following communication channels:
v Phone: 1-800-622-6537 v Online: www.cleco.com (Contact Us page) or the company’s online customer information system, MyAccount
v Social media: Facebook page at @ClecoPower
v In-Person: Local customer service office
Common utility scams:
· Disconnection Deception Scammers call threatening disconnection of your service unless you make an immediate payment using a pre-paid debit card, gift card, cryptocurrencies or third-party digital payment mobile application.
· Overpayment Tactic Scammers call claiming you overpaid your bill, and you need to provide your personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
· Vacate Your Home Scammers claim there is a need to replace your meter or other equipment, and you must leave your home for 72 hours.
· Power Restoration Charge Scammers call offering to restore your electricity more quickly for a fee after a severe storm.
· Identification Attack Rather than directing victims to call a 1-800 number, the scammers direct callers to press 1 to collect more data in an attempt to get your personal information.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened, should contact Cleco or their local law enforcement authorities