OKLAHOMA CITY – A local electric company is warning residents about a scam that is targeting customers across the metro.
On Thursday, OG&E announced that it had received several reports about scammers calling customers and demanding payment.
Officials say the scammers seem to especially target Hispanic customers, and are even using ‘spoofed’ OG&E phone numbers.
“We caution all of our customers to be wary of anyone asking for payments and requesting credit card information,” said Kathleen O’Shea, OG&E spokesperson. “We mail two separate notices prior to disconnecting electric service: a 10-day notice and a 48-hour notice. The notices explain the reason for the disconnection, the total amount past due and the date when service may be disconnected if payment arrangements have not been made.”
Officials stress that they will never call a customer for payment.
“We do call the customer with a 48-hour notice and again the day before the service disconnection. We do not require payment directly over the phone nor do we send representatives out to collect payments,” she said.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. OG&E does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, via text with myOGEalerts, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person at kiosks.
- If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification. OG&E never sends a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.
- If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email or shut the door. They should then call OG&E at the number on their monthly bill or listed on oge.com, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.