September 4, 2019
A restaurant owner in Hagerstown, Md., recently received a phone call stating that he had 30 minutes to make a payment to Potomac Edison or his electric service would be terminated. He was instructed to visit a local dollar store and to call a 1-800 number to receive further instructions about how to submit his payment.
Before following these instructions, the customer did the right thing: he called our Customer Contact Center to report the incident and to check the status of his account. After speaking with several employees, he relayed his story to Dorothy Crawford, supervisor, Revenue Operations.
“Unfortunately, these types of phone scams occur across our service territory,” said Dorothy. “After advising the customer of the scam and assuring him that FirstEnergy operating companies do not request payments in this manner, I helped him contact the Federal Communications Commission to report the incident.”
According to Dorothy, customers who are behind on their accounts receive written notices of a possible disconnection and how to prevent it. Our customer service representatives never call or email customers to demand immediate payment to avoid a same-day shutoff.
“FirstEnergy customers should never provide personal information over the phone if immediate payment is demanded to avoid a disconnection,” explained Dorothy. “Our field collectors in Maryland – and in New Jersey and Ohio – can offer customers with past-due accounts the opportunity to pay their bill before disconnecting their service.”
If a call seems suspicious, Dorothy recommends that customers follow these three steps: hang up, call the police, and call your utility provider at the phone number on your bill. Here are some other tips to help prevent you from becoming the victim of a scammer:
- Never provide sensitive information – such as Social Security numbers or bank account information – over the phone. FirstEnergy customer service representatives do no request this type of information.
- Do not allow anyone claiming to be a utility employee into your home unless you scheduled an appointment and the employee has provided proper identification. FirstEnergy utility employees always carry photo identification.
- Only send electric bill payments to your utility, and never use a payment account provided to you by an unknown individual. FirstEnergy utilities offer a wide array of approved billing and payment options, and never require customers to purchase pre-paid money cards as the only acceptable means of payment.
- FirstEnergy customers can keep track of the amount and timing of their bill by signing up for our alert service. In addition, our eBill payment option can help ensure your bill is always paid on time.
For more information about how to avoid being the victim of a scam visit www.firstenergycorp.com/scaminfo and watch the video below that features two FirstEnergy customers who recently were targeted by scammers.