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Pennsylvania PUC warns consumers of energy bill scam

By: Observer-Reporter.com |

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is cautioning consumers about an email scam involving their energy bills.

Recently, the PUC has heard from a number of utilities and electric suppliers and consumers in regard to a recurring fraudulent billing scam, according to a news release from the agency.

“Recent cold weather may have triggered a return of a scam we have seen before involving phony bills and collection notices,” said Commission Chairman Robert Powelson. “Customers receive an email saying that they owe money on their electric or gas bill when, in fact, they do not. Some are not even a customer of the supplier.”

Powelson urges consumers to contact their energy provider before acting.

“If consumers are enrolled in e-billing with their utility, we remind them to carefully check any email they receive concerning their account to ensure it is from their utility. Contact the utility if you receive anything that looks like a cancellation notice.”

Anyone who receives an unauthorized or suspicious email should not click on any links, but should call the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380.

“We have found that scams of this nature are more common in cold weather because people are more easily frightened about losing utility service in the winter,” Powelson said. “We want to ensure that consumers are educated and protected, and they remain confident in the benefits of the competitive marketplace.”

The PUC also urges consumers to be diligent when weighing offers for electricity from door-to-door and telephone solicitors, the release said.

“Consumers should educate themselves through resources such as www.PAPowerSwitch.com,”; Powelson said. “Any time a consumer is uncomfortable with a sales pitch or an email they receive from a utility or competitive supplier, they should contact us. We want every consumer to have a positive experience.”

To help consumers identify and protect themselves from scams, the PUC provided a list of tips. Among the tips, the PUC reminds consumers that utilities do not come door to door unless you’ve called them. It also advises consumers not to share account information and not to feel pressured to make a decision immediately. Additional tips can be found at www.puc.pa.gov.