Companies offer utility scam awareness tips and best practices
ORANGE, CT – March 7, 2022 – United Illuminating (UI), Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG) and Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) – subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) – are reminding customers in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week about ways to stay safe and guard against becoming victims of imposter utility scams. Particularly since the start of COVID-19, scammers have increased calls, texts emails and even in-person tactics as they continue to contact utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have increased calls, texts, emails and in-person tactics to contact utility customers asking for an immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. We urge our valued customers to be vigilant of the evolving tactics scammers use to steal personal and confidential information,” said Scott Baker, AVANGRID Vice President of Customer Service.
UI, CNG and SCG accept a variety of payment methods and will never demand customers to purchase prepaid debit cards to make payments. Customers should never give out personal or account information to unsolicited callers. For more information on how to pay a bill, visit these links: UI, CNG, and SCG.
Regarding door-to-door imposters, UIL employees and contractors will always carry proper identification. If a customer is concerned about whether or not the visit is legitimate, they are encouraged to call the companies’ customer service numbers: UI 800.722.5584, CNG 866.924.5325 and SCG 800.513.8898.
Customers should be aware of these scammer tactics:
- Fraudulent phone numbers: Scammers are claiming the phone number is different than the number listed on the utility bill due to remote work status.
- Fraudulent emails and texts: Scammers are using digital correspondence to portray themselves as the utility.
- Door-to-door imposters: Scammers are claiming they are responding to reports that scammers are in the neighborhood.
Types of scams that customers should look out for include:
- Disconnection threat: Someone posing as a utility representative aggressively tells the customer their account is past-due and the service will be disconnected if immediate payment is not made. Scammers will typically ask for a prepaid debit card or another non-refundable form of payment.
- Meter payment: The caller or in-person scammer instructs the customer to pay with cash or a prepaid debit card to cover the costs of a new meter or meter upgrade.
- Information request: The caller insists that a recent payment encountered a system glitch and was not completed; the scammer then asks the customer to make a false payment using a prepaid debit card or by providing personal account information.
Safety tips for customers:
- The companies will never demand customers to purchase debit cards such as Green Dot cards to make payments. UI, CNG and SCG accept a variety of payment methods and Customer Care representatives will work with individual customers to help them pay down outstanding balances and maintain service.
- If unsure of the identity of the caller, ask for the last five digits of the account. If they do not have this information, hang up and alert local authorities. Never give out personal or account information to a caller.
- UI, CNG and SCG employees and contractors carry company-issued photo ID with a unique employee number. Ask for ID before providing personal or account information or granting access to your property. If you are not certain, call to confirm using the number on your bill or the company’s website.
- Be suspicious of unexpected emails from UI, SCG and CNG, especially if you’re not an eBill customer. Think twice before clicking links. If you’re not certain, you can make credit card payments, check balances and find other information at UI, SCG, and CNG.
- When making a payment by phone, always use the company’s automated services phone numbers. UI customers can call 800.722.5584, CNG customers can call 860.524.8361 and SCG customers can call 800.659.8299.
- The Federal Trade Commission’s website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other information regarding impostor scams.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should notify law enforcement authorities and the companies immediately.
About UI: The United Illuminating Company (UI) is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. Established in 1899, UI operates approximately 3,600 miles of electric distribution lines and 138 miles of transmission lines. It serves approximately 341,000 customers in the greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas of Connecticut. UI received the Edison Electric Institute’s Emergency Recovery Award in 2019 and 2021. For more information, visit uinet.com.
About SCG: The Southern Connecticut Gas Company (SCG) is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. Established in 1847, SCG operates approximately 2,500 miles of natural gas distribution pipelines, serving approximately 206,000 customers in the greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas of Connecticut. For more information, visit soconngas.com.
About CNG: Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation (CNG) is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. Established in 1848, CNG operates approximately 2,200 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline, serving approximately 183,000 customers across 26 communities in the greater Hartford-New Britain area, and Greenwich, Connecticut. For more information, visit cngcorp.com.
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $39 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 7,000 people and has been recognized by Forbes and Just Capital as one of the 2021 JUST 100 companies - a list of America's best corporate citizens - and was ranked number one within the utility sector for its commitment to the environment and the communities it serves. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2021 for the third consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. For more information, visit avangrid.com.
Learn about the Iberdrola Group’s global pandemic response at its COVID-19 Hub.