This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Utah Department of Commerce and Rocky Mountain Power are warning utility customers to beware of con artists posing as company customer-service agents or attorneys.
Elderly consumers and others are being told that under a grant authorized by President Barack Obama they can receive a utility bill credit or have their bills paid directly. Potential victims are told they must provide their Social Security, credit card or check routing number first.
The scam has been reported across the country and in Utah in recent months, according to the state. Some scammers are handing out fliers in person, while others are using social media, texting or contacting consumers by phone.
"If someone tells you that the president of the United States will help you pay your utility bills, it's simply not true," Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, said in a statement. "As we've said before, be skeptical of any phone call or text message without verifying it first with the corresponding business or retailer."
Some customers who have received such calls have been told their electricity will be disconnected if they don't provide their credit card information, Giani added.
Said Karen Gilmore, Rocky Mountain Power's vice president of customer service: "These thieves are in no way associated with our company, and we take very seriously any efforts to defraud our customers, especially using our company's good customer relationships and reputation."
Rocky Mountain Power offers the following suggestions for customer safety and security:
• Employees always wear identification badges when performing work in the field.
• All Rocky Mountain Power vehicles are marked with the company's name or logo. Check to see if the vehicle is clearly marked and/or ask for ID.
• If you have any doubts or concerns that a visitor or caller represents Rocky Mountain Power, call toll-free at 1-888-221-7070 to confirm the person's identity before proceeding with any transaction.
• If Rocky Mountain Power contacts a customer, the representative will always have the customer's account number. Even then, if you are approached by phone and have any concerns about the validity of the call, it is always appropriate to let the caller know you prefer to call them back. They can always be reached through the toll-free 1-888-221-7070 number, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
• If a customer calls Rocky Mountain Power to ask questions or pay their bill, the customer will be asked specifically to verify his or her identity to protect access to their account.
• Rocky Mountain Power employees will not demand immediate payment for damaged or broken electrical equipment or any other service. Be suspicious of anyone who approaches you and asks for on-the-spot payment, especially if they ask for cash.
• Customers should never provide unsolicited callers or visitors with credit card numbers or any other information that may compromise their financial security.
Anyone receiving such visits or calls about their utility bill is encouraged to gather information such as license plate numbers, a number that appears on caller ID or an address where they're supposed to send money and to report the incident to local police and Rocky Mountain Power.
For additional information, visit http://www.rockymoutainpower.net.
How to verify
Utahns who want to make sure the person they are dealing with really represents Rocky Mountain Power can call the company toll free at 1-888-221-7070 to confirm identity.