Scam targets utility customers across the country

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A scam is targeting utility customers across the country with con-artists calling and threatening to shut off their service. (WPVI)

A scam is targeting utility customers across the country with con-artists calling and threatening to shut off their service.

The consumer we interviewed is a PECO customer but this same scam is affecting customers of all kinds of utilities, including water and gas.

Now those different utility companies all across the country are working together with police and FBI.

Patti Brett is shaken up.

"I'm upset because I almost gave somebody $1,500 of my hard-earned money," said Brett.

Brett owns Doobie's Bar and says last Friday somebody called her - claiming to be from PECO.

"And that my service was being terminated at 6:30 due to non-payment," she said.

Brett was told she owed $1,498.

"The last payment I made wasn't credited to my account because there was some sort of glitch with their computers," she said.

Brett was told to go to a grocery store to buy re-loadable debit or cash cards to make immediate payment.

"Because I went into panic mode, I called one of my employees to come in and cover for me so I could go out and pick up these cards," said Brett.

Fortunately at the store, Brett called PECO directly and in the nick of time and was told not to do it because it was a scam.

"Since late 2011 - we've had 2,460 customers that have been targeted. About 340 of those customers have been taken by the scam for a total of about $365,000," said Ben Armstrong, PECO.

PECO says they will NEVER ask for payment via a pre-paid or re-loadable card and will never shut off service with only a few hours' notice.

Customers will instead get a 10-day notice.

"We will also provide you 72-hours' notice and then try to call you several times prior to the termination," said Armstrong.

Even on PECO's last call - they will give you 24 hours to pay.

Anytime someone calls you claiming to be with a certain company or utility and you find yourself questioning who's really on the other end of the line, hang up and call the company directly.

Related Topics:
consumerconsumer concernsscamscams
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