By Ben Murdock, Senior Research Analyst –
Today, utilities large and small, from north to south, are banding together to warn customers about fraudulent phone calls from scammers. Scam alerts are already an important part of customer communications for utilities, but this year marks the beginning of an effort to work in numbers to multiply their effectiveness.
Imposters pose as utility representatives for a few reasons, most commonly to call customers and demand money. CPS Energy struggled for years with a series of criminal acts that shifted from home invasions to fraudulent emails and eventually to phone calls (read more here). The utility responded with aggressive messaging educating customers about what they should and should not expect from utility employees. This was not easy and was not inexpensive for the company.
Scams impact residential customers as well as business customers where the demanded payments reach potentially thousands of dollars rather than hundreds. Throughout the summer of 2015, Duke Energy saw a rapid rise in scams reported across six states with about 10% of those reporting a scam suffering a financial loss. While Duke Energy had the significant resources to respond with an anti-scam “SWAT Team” (read more about that here), many utilities don’t have the size and resources available to tackle major communications like this on their own.
Utilities have designed effective emails, infographics, banner ads and social media content to educate their customers and combat scammers, and earlier this summer, Chartwell published a collection of some of these that our members can access through our EnergyLibrary. By designating today as “Utilities United Against Scams” day, companies are combining their resources to stand up for their customers to work towards the best outcome for everyone but the bad guys.