CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Have you received a call from someone claiming they will shut off your power unless you send an immediate payment? Hang up, because it's a scam!
“In the last several days, we’ve received dozens of reports from customers who have been targeted by the scam,” said Jeri Matheney, Appalachian Power spokesperson. “Most of these have been in West Virginia, but experience tells us the scammers will soon move on to Virginia and Tennessee.”
In some cases, customers are ordered to purchase prepaid debit cards, such as a Vanilla or Green Dot, and call a toll-free number to provide the card information. In a new twist, Appalachian Power says that sometimes, customers are even told to pay in person.
In this instance, the scammer goes to great lengths to make the phony toll-free number appear authentic to customers who may be skeptical, according to Appalachian Power officials. When customers dial the number, they hear a recording that sounds genuine — but it isn’t.
“There’s an urgent, demanding nature to the calls, which should raise red flags,” Matheney said.
While there are instances when Appalachian Power will contact customers over the phone, the company does not demand immediate payment in this manner, she said.
Customers have 24 hours to make payment arrangements before disconnection.
Appalachian Power’s toll-free numbers are provided on the company’s website, www.AppalachianPower.com.
In West Virginia, the toll-free number for Appalachian Power is 800-982-4237; in Virginia, it is 800-956-4237; and in Tennessee, the toll-free number is 800-967-4237.
Here are some tips consumers can use to stop a scammer:
- Confirm that you are speaking to a utility representative. If you have any concerns, tell the caller that you will independently check the phone number for the utility to verify the caller’s identity and information.
- Be wary of anyone demanding immediate payment or payment in forms that are difficult to trace.
- Never give your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers, or any other personal identification numbers, to anyone who comes to your home, calls or sends an email requesting information.
- Never allow anyone claiming to be a utility service person into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment and the person has proper identification. Lock the door and contact police if you become concerned about your safety