Today is Utility Scam Awareness Day, which is part of International Fraud Awareness Week, and Evergy, the utility that serves both Wichita and Kansas City, is one of more than 100 utility companies throughout North America who are recognizing the day.
“We want customers to know signs of a scam so they don’t fall victim,” said Jeff Martin, Evergy vice president, customer operations. “Scammers use the threat of immediate disconnection to scare customers into responding right away. Evergy will never call and demand immediate payment or dictate how a customer chooses to pay.”
Evergy offers these safety tips for customers:
- Verify the person you’re engaging is with Evergy by asking to see company identification or by calling the Customer Contact Center before giving credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who comes to your home, calls, text and/or sends an email requesting this information about your utility bill. If you can’t verify that you’re speaking with an Evergy employee, do not give them this information.
- Be suspicious if you receive an email or text message regarding your utility bill if you have not requested online communications from Evergy.
- For customers using Evergy’s online bill pay system, always make online payments directly through evergy.com.
- Never provide personal information via email or click any suspicious links.
Signs of a potential scam include:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer their utility bill is past due, and service will be disconnected – usually within an hour – if a payment is not made.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to buy a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
- Request for prepaid card or through a payment app: 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. Evergy does not request payment by apps such as CashApp, Venmo or Zelle.
Scammers have recently increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person tactics and are contacting utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Evergy will never ask customers to make payments with a prepaid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency, or third-party digital payment mobile applications.
The phone scammer is often a live person posing as an Evergy employee who notifies the customer of a past due bill and demands immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Scammers also can manipulate the caller ID to look like the company phone number.
If the customer is unable to make an immediate payment or does not answer, the caller provides a return phone number unassociated with Evergy or the utility for customers to call back. When calling, customers are often prompted by a convincing, but fraudulent recording with instructions to make to make their payment with a live person.
Due to valued customer reports, Evergy has worked in conjunction with
Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to quickly shutdown many of these fraudulent numbers and derail scams. In such cases, it is extremely valuable for the reporting customer to obtain and provide the scammer’s requested callback number. UUAS is dedicated to combating utility scams by providing a forum for utilities and trade associations to share data and best practices, in addition to working together to implement initiatives to inform and protect customers.
If you have questions about the legitimacy of a bill, phone call or email regarding a utility bill, do not provide your personal or banking information to anyone. Contact the Evergy Customer Contact Center at the number located on your bill or at evergy.com.
If you feel you have been a victim of a scam, please work with your local law enforcement agency to report the crime. For more information, visit Evergy Utility Scams. Evergy will share more tips about protecting yourself against scammers on our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) as well this week.