Utilities United Against Scams
Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) was recently awarded the Toll-Free Industry’s Fraud Fighter Award in recognition of its advocacy and awareness campaign to stop scams that target electric, water, and natural gas company customers. UUAS was presented the award on October 10 at the Toll-Free User Summit hosted by Somos, Inc., in Las Vegas.
The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is a member of UUAS, a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas companies, and their respective trade associations, working across the industry with regulators, law enforcement, and other telecommunications partners to educate and raise awareness to stop scams targeting utility customers. UUAS and its member companies have helped to shut down more than 2,200 Toll-Free Numbers used by scammers against utility customers.
“BPU is proud to be a member of UUAS and contribute to the mission of protecting customers from impostor utility scams. BPU will continue to help spread awareness of suspicious behaviors and the evolving tactics that scammers use to target customers and participate in this year’s third annual National Utility Scam Awareness Week from November 11 through 17,” said BPU Chief Communications Officer David Mehlhaff.
“Electric, water, and natural gas services are vital to our everyday lives, and scammers are continually attempting to take advantage of utility customers,” said Utilities United Against Scams Executive Director and former state utility consumer advocate Sheri Givens. “UUAS will continue to help spread awareness of malicious and frequently evolving tactics that scammers use to target customers. It is important for customers to be vigilant to combat impostor utility scams, and it also is important for customers to call their utilities directly to if they have any questions about the status of their accounts or law enforcement officials if they suspect any fraudulent activity.”
The Toll-Free Industry Awards were established to recognize individuals and companies that are at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in the Toll-Free Industry. The Fraud Fighter Award is presented annually and is given to an individual or organization actively working to protect the public from fraudulent activities and scams.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers should contact their utility company or local law enforcement authorities. If someone calls, texts, appears, or emails saying you have to pay your bill immediately to avoid disconnection, tell them you would like to verify that they are a legitimate utility company representative by calling a verified number for the utility company found on the utility’s website or on your monthly bill. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information and educate yourself on the different types of impostor scams.
Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams or follow along on social media: Twitter @U_U_A_S and Facebook @UtilitiesUnited.
UUAS is a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities (and their respective trade associations). UUAS is dedicated to combating impostor 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.
BPU’s water department was originally created in 1909, and its electric utility was operational in 1912. The purpose of the utility, then and to this day, is to provide the highest quality electric and water services at the lowest possible cost. Today the publicly owned utility serves approximately 65,000 electric and 51,000 water customers, primarily in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The mission of the utility and its employees is “to focus on the needs of our customers, to improve the quality of life in our community while promoting safe, reliable and sustainable utilities.” BPU’s Web site is www.bpu.com.