*Editor’s note: After being contacted by several physicians, we contacted Alabama Power for additional information concerning the resurgence of an old scam.
The Medical Association is joining Alabama Power to warn customers about a new wave of an old scam.
In this instance, scammers call from toll-free numbers claiming that the customer’s account is past due and the customer’s service will be discontinued if the customer does not make a payment.
The number features a recording claiming to be Alabama Power; however it is not. Alabama Power does not conduct business in this manner.
If receiving a call, do not rely on caller ID, as thieves alter the number on those devices to appear local, or even display “Alabama Power” or “Customer Service.”
Customers who receive suspicious calls are encouraged to hang up, and report it to law enforcement. The next call should be to your utility company’s billing department to confirm your account status and alert them of the scam.
Over the past few years, scammers targeting both residential and commercial customers have become more sophisticated in their tactics, including:
- Calling from a local number posing as an Alabama Power technician threatening to disconnect service if a payment was not made immediately with a “money pack” or prepaid card – an untraceable disposable debit card. The scammers ask customers to buy a prepaid card from a local retailer (such as Walmart, CVS or Walgreens).
- Using a number with “Alabama Power” appearing on the caller ID asking for immediate payment by money pack or prepaid card. The customer is then directed to call a different number with an answering machine that says “This is Alabama Power” and leave the prepaid card information.
- Going to customers’ homes impersonating Alabama Power employees offering to reduce energy bills by conducting an energy audit. The fake employee offers to immediately credit the account by accepting a cash payment on the spot.
- Targeting customers in chat rooms posing as employees of companies or organizations that help pay bills for disadvantaged families.
- Going door to door and posing as clergy telling customers they are assisting people with paying their energy bills and asking for a prepaid card.
Most scams seem obvious after the fact, but scammers are smart and know they do not need to make sense; they just need to scare the intended victim. Their goal is to make the victims believe they are in trouble and that the scammers are the only ones who can help. This type of emotional manipulation is easy when it comes to a vital service such as electricity that customers depend on.
“If someone calls and says your electricity is being turned off unless you make an immediate payment, we urge customers to hang up and call their local authorities,” said Security Manager Scott Stover. “These are crimes that should be reported to law enforcement.”
Stover said after notifying local authorities, a customer’s next call should be to the Alabama Power customer service line to confirm their account status and alert the company of the scam.
“Due to the variety of scams, it is important our customers know the ways in which we conduct business so they can spot a scam and report it to authorities and to us,” Bellamy said.
How to protect yourself
Alabama Power customers should remember:
- Alabama Power employees will never come to your door and demand an immediate payment.
- No employee will ever call and ask you for bank information or a credit card number.
- Any Alabama Power employee who comes to your door for any reason will have company identification that he or she will gladly show. If you have any questions about whether the person works for Alabama Power, call 1-888-430-5787 and do not let the person inside your home until you receive proper verification.
- Scammers sometimes claim they represent a public agency or government office offering grants that can pay your Alabama Power or other utility bill. Never provide anyone making this claim your credit card information, your Alabama Power Company bill information or account number, or any personal banking information. If someone makes this claim, call Alabama Power or your local police department to report it.
If you ever have any question about the status of your Alabama Power account, do not hesitate to call the company. You can reach Alabama Power Customer Service day or night, seven days a week, at 1-888-430-5787.