PECO warning utility consumers about uptick in phone number 'spoofing' scams

PECO says these kinds of phone spoofing scams are going up by as much as 30%.

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
PECO warning consumers about rise in phone number 'spoofing' scam
Scammers are using a tactic known as 'spoofing,' where they can make the number that shows up on your caller ID appear the same a real PECO number.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Scams are on the rise for utility customers and becoming more aggressive and hard to spot.

PECO is sounding the alarm on this, but it can affect customers of any utility company.

Recently there has been a big uptick in scammers using a tactic known as "spoofing," where they can make the number that shows up on your caller ID appear the same as a real PECO number.

"They call me and they rattled me," said Richard Varella of Glenolden, Delaware County.

Varella almost fell for a scam.

"And I should have known better. Like I said, I've worked for PGW for 30 years," he said.

Scammers called Varella claiming to represent PECO. They told him there was an issue with his meters and his service was going to get shut off unless he made immediate payment.

"So they wanted me to go to Walmart, send them $900. They're gonna hang on the line while I buy the things, scrub the code off, and give them the code."

Varella says the number on his Caller ID was PECO's, but his family still talked him out of doing as the caller instructed.

"My wife and my son-in-law were telling me it's a scam," he said.

So Varella hung up and called PECO directly. The company confirmed the caller had been a con artist.

"He said, we don't have nothing like that," he said.

"The impersonation of utility workers is on the rise," said Sabrina Brooks of PECO.

PECO says these kinds of scams are going up by as much as 30%.

There are a few important things you should always remember.

"We will never demand immediate payment. We will not call you and say pay us right now, pay us via Bitcoin, go get a gift card, send it to this particular account. We will not do that," said Brooks.

Next, check your account status, balances, payments, and supplier information yourself. That information is on your printed bill or you can log into your PECO account online or on the company's app.

Also, never provide your account information to an unverified person.

"If a valid PECO representative is contacting you, we will already know your information. We'll know your account name. We'll know your street address. We know how much you owe," she said.

Don't provide your bank or credit card information over the phone. Instead, it's better to update your payment and information by independently logging into your account online.

Be aware - these criminals are relentless.

"They got nothing better to do than trying to rip people off," said Varella.

Varella tells us he's received scam calls multiple times.

"I just hang it up. I just delete it," he said.

If you are ever suspicious of someone calling you and claiming to be from PECO, hang up and call PECO directly at 1-800-494-4000.