Central Maine Power Warns Customers of New Surge in Scam Attempts
Customers Urged To Report Calls to Company and Law Enforcement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA, MAINE May 25, 2018 Central Maine Power, a subsidiary of AVANGRID Inc. (NYSE: AGR), is urging customers to be wary of scammers posing as representatives of trusted energy companies.
In recent days, the company has received reports of scammers threatening to cut service unless the customer makes an immediate payment over the phone using a prepaid debit card. While most customers recognize these calls as scams, a small number have been persuaded to make payments.
It's an old swindle with some new twists. Caller ID may show the call is coming from the utility. In some cases, the perpetrators seem to have specific knowledge about the customers they're calling. They may even provide a callback number that answers with a recorded greeting that's similar to the energy company's customer service line.
Typically, the caller informs the customer a crew is on the way to shut off service unless an immediate payment is made. The perpetrators may tell the customer that the company had not received a recent payment or had incorrectly processed a payment, so the customer must pay again.
The scammer often demands the victim purchase a prepaid debit card (Green Dot is a common brand) to make the payment. Occasionally, the scammer will demand a payment in cash and advise that a company representative will be coming in person within the hour to collect it.
Perpetrators often target commercial establishments such as restaurants, sandwich shops, or markets shortly before their busiest lunch or dinner periods. However residential customers have also reported receiving calls.
Customers should verify all information before making payments over the phone, and should recognize the red flags:
It doesn't add up. CMP doesn't call customers for payment if the account is in good standing.
Timing and urgency: If a customer falls behind on payments, CMP sends a letter and will call the customer before proceeding with disconnection. Additionally, CMP does not disconnect service on Friday, state holidays or during the weekend.
Demanding a specific form of payment: CMP accepts a variety payment types, including credit cards, bank transfers and more. If a caller insists on payment via a prepaid debit card "especially a specific brand of prepaid card "it is a scam.
Here are steps customers can take to protect themselves:
Check account status. Create an online profile at the CMP website as a quick way to check account status or call CMP's customer service line (800.750.4000 for residential customers or 800.565.3181 for business customers). Do not use callback numbers provided by unsolicited callers. Customer representatives can verify account status and work with customers to resolve any issues.
The identity of any CMP employee can be verified by asking for their photo ID card (if in person) or their employee number, then contacting CMP at 800.750.4000 to verify their identity and the nature of their business. Our employees are happy to comply with an identity verification request.
Protect personal information. Customers should never share personal or financial information, including outstanding balances, without first verifying whom they're speaking with.
Collect evidence. Customers who suspect a scam are urged to get the name and number from caller ID, if available, write down any call-back number provided, and take notes on what the caller said. This will help investigators work with authorities to shut down the scam.
Report it. Customers should report the scam to the utility, local law enforcement, and the Federal Trade Commission ( http://www.ftc.gov/). This will help authorities shut down scams and prosecute the scammers.
Enroll in CMP's AutoPay service. The amount due is automatically deducted from a bank account each month, so customers will have no concerns about an outstanding balance. More information on this payment option is at Autopay
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) is a diversified energy and utility company with more than $31 billion in assets and operations in 27 states. The company owns regulated utilities and electricity generation assets through two primary lines of business, Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks is comprised of eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving approximately 3.2 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables operates more than 6 gigawatts of owned and controlled renewable generation capacity, primarily through wind and solar, in 22 states across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 6,800 people. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
About CMP: Central Maine Power Company (CMP) is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR). As Maine's largest electricity transmission and distribution utility, CMP serves 618,000 homes and businesses, representing about 80% of Maine's customer base. J.D. Power and Associates has ranked the company #1 in customer satisfaction seven times. For more information, visit www.cmpco.com.