Jul 6, 2012
The PPL Electric Utilities service territory has been affected by a nationwide scam that pries personal information — including social security numbers — from customers by promising them utility bill credits as part of a plan from President Obama.
More than 500 PPL Electric Utilities customers are believed to have been targets of this scam over the past few weeks. The utility posted a warning about the scam on its website for several weeks, beginning in early June.
In the scam, customers are asked for social security or bank account numbers. In return, they are told to make future bill payments with what turn out to be fake bank account and routing numbers.
Because the bank account and routing numbers are bogus, those payments ultimately get rejected. PPL Electric Utilities has blocked its system from accepting those fake numbers so they are not accepted as payments.
“We want our customers to be aware of this scam and know what they can do to try to protect themselves if they’ve given out their social security or bank account numbers,” said Mark A. Hoffman, manager of Customer Care for PPL Electric Utilities.
Specifically, PPL Electric Utilities advises people who may have given out their personal information in the scam to contact Equifax to put a fraud alert on their consumer credit file. Customers can call 1-888-766-0008 or visit www.equifax.com to fill out a form.
In addition, they can register an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-438-4338.
PPL Electric Utilities customers do not get charged any returned payment fees in these scam cases. However, depending on the status of their account, they could be subject to late payment charges if they don’t send another payment to cover the returned payment. Personal customer information could be used by scam perpetrators to commit fraud or other criminal acts.
PPL Electric Utilities will attempt to contact customers who have had payments rejected as part of the scam by letter with the Equifax and FTC information on how to protect their consumer credit.
Only in a very limited number of cases, such as establishing a new account, will PPL Electric Utilities request a customer’s social security number.
If customers have doubts about a caller claiming to represent or be affiliated with PPL Electric Utilities, or about information given to them, they should call 1-800-342-5775 for verification before providing any personal information. If things don’t check out, they should call their local police department.
Someone affiliated with PPL Electric Utilities could come to your door, though most visits to customer homes by the utility or its contractors are prearranged by the company or through a call to the customer. If someone claiming to be from or affiliated with PPL Electric Utilities comes to your home, follow these steps to help guard against imposters:
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), provides electric delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania and has consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com.