Dominion warns of utility scams
Published 11:43 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Last year, scammers contacted nearly 2,800 Dominion Virginia Power customers, demanding fraudulent payments totaling more than $1.2 million. Hundreds of customers fell victim, paying nearly $200,000 in response to threats of immediate disconnection of electric service.
“While we are working in concert with law enforcement to identify, track and stop these scams, it’s important for customers to recognize the red flags,” said Marc Gaudette, director of corporate security, safety and health. “Unfortunately, the scammers frequently target the elderly, non-English-speaking communities and businesses during their busy times and use caller ID spoofing software so a customer thinks Dominion is calling.”
“There are two clear signs that there’s a scammer on the other end of that phone call that you can easily spot,” said Becky Merritt, vice president of customer service. “First, we would never threaten a customer, even if their account is past due. Second, we would never insist on one specific, immediate form of payment — there are a number of options available to customers, including in-person at a verified payment location, secure payment through their online account, or our third-party payment processing vendor.”
Utility customers across the country are being targeted. Customers are reminded to do the following: Ask questions and verify what you are hearing by checking your online account or hanging up and then calling 866-DOM-HELP. If an account is overdue, Dominion provides multiple communications in writing and offers a payment plan before disconnection occurs. Dominion does not require payment over the phone and never demands immediate payment of cash, PayPal, any prepaid debit card such as MoneyPak/Green Dot, or any gift card to avoid disconnection. Payment by phone is available through BillMatrix at 1-800-573-1147. (Note: customers will never be contacted directly by BillMatrix requiring payment.) Collect information from the scammer including the caller’s name, any phone numbers or other details before hanging up and reporting to local law enforcement.
For other tips about how to avoid scams, visit www.dom.com/scams.