Attorney General warns of continuing utility scam targeting Virginia consumers
Attorney General Mark Herring’s office is aware of continuing reports of consumers receiving calls from individuals claiming to be from their electric company threatening power disconnection unless payment is made immediately. Attorney General Herring, Dominion Virginia Power, Appalachian Power and the Virginia Electric Cooperatives want customers to remember that they do not take payment over the phone, and never ask for immediate payment via cash, PayPal, ‘Green Dot’ or any prepaid debit card as a prerequisite to keeping lights on.
“Although this scam has been around for several years, it may go dormant for a time and then resurface, often with a subtle twist that never seems to fail to ensnare new victims,” said Attorney General Herring. “Scammers continue to use increasingly sophisticated methods to trick citizens, including caller ID technology that makes it appear as though calls are coming from the power company. These scammers will pressure consumers into making a payment over the phone or with a prepaid debit card that is as hard to track and difficult to recover as cash. Consumers need to remember that a legitimate business will not operate this way. They should resist any pressure and if they’re unsure about the legitimacy of a call, they should request an invoice in writing or hang up and contact the company directly to check on their account.”
Attorney General Herring’s office is working closely with Dominion Virginia Power, Appalachian Power, and the Electric Cooperatives to help Virginians avoid becoming a victim. Prevention is key, since money lost is nearly impossible to recover, and being aware is the first step to protecting yourself. Attorney General Herring urges customers to remember:
- If a customer is suspicious, they are encouraged to collect information from the scammer such as his/her name, any phone numbers or other details before hanging up and then reporting to local law enforcement. Never share any personal or financial information with a caller you do not know.
- If you feel that your personal safety or security is threatened, hang up and call 911.
- Stay calm. Scammers may contact consumers or businesses during a hectic or busy time to try to catch them off guard.
- Dominion Virginia Power, Appalachian Power, and the Electric Cooperatives will never demand payment over the phone or require payment on a pre-paid debit card. Dominion Virginia Power does not direct customers to make payment at any of their offices. Designated payment centers can be found online at:https://www.dom.com/
residential/dominion-virginia- power/customer-service/ payment-options. Dominion customers should always call 866-DOM-HELP to verify that the company is attempting to reach them before releasing any personal information. If a customer is behind on his/her bill, Dominion Virginia Power typically sets up a payment plan mutually agreed upon and provides a customer with multiple notifications in writing before power is scheduled to be disconnected.
- Appalachian Power does not direct customers to make payment at any of their offices. Designated payment centers can be found online at: http://www.appalachianpower.
com/account/bills/pay/ PayInPerson.aspx. Stay calm. Scammers may contact businesses during a hectic or busy time to try to catch them off guard. If a customer is behind on his/her bill, Appalachian Power typically sets up a payment plan mutually agreed upon and provides a customer with notification in writing 10 days before power is scheduled to be disconnected. Appalachian Power customers in Virginia can call 1-800- 956-4237 to speak with a customer service representative. All of Appalachian Power’s payment options can also be found online at:www.appalachianpower.com.
Customers of Virginia’s electric cooperatives may reach a customer service representative at these numbers:
- A&N Electric Cooperative: (757) 787-9750
- BARC Electric Cooperative: (800) 846-2272
- Central Virginia Electric Cooperative: (434) 263-8336
- Community Electric Cooperative:(757) 242-6181
- Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative: (540) 864-5121
- Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative:(800) 243-2860
- Northern Neck Electric Cooperative: (800) 243-2860
- Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative:(703) 335-0500
- Powell Valley Electric Cooperative: (276) 346-6079
- Prince George Electric Cooperative: (804) 834-2424
- Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: (800) 552-3904 or online: www.myrec.coop/paymentchoices
- Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative: (800) 234-7832
- Southside Electric Cooperative: (800) 552-2118
If you feel you have been a victim, or have received one of these calls, please contact your power company and Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section, which helps educate Virginians about fraud and accepts consumer complaints regarding a variety of issues. You may contact our office to get information or to file a complaint. Visit our website: www.ag.virginia.gov or call 1-800-552-9963 in Virginia or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area.