BPU Partners with Utilities United Against Scams
The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has recently reinforced efforts to raise public awareness of utility scams by joining the Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) association. This alliance consists of over 100 U.S. and Canadian utilities committed to eliminating scams targeting utility service providers while informing customers how to protect themselves.
Many electric, gas and water customers across the nation are being targeted by impostor utility scams every day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target customers. Scammers pose as utility company representatives, and they threaten that services will be disconnected or shut off if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically demanding the payment be made using a prepaid card or another non-traceable form of payment.
Scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours. However, with the right information, customers can learn to detect and report fraudulent activity.
Signs of A Potential Scam:
- Scammers may aggressively tell the customer their utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually in less than an hour.
- Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a pre-paid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back to provide the card information to supposedly make a bill payment to BPU. Some scammers may request a money wire or money order.
- The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card number or receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves:
- Never give credit or debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who comes to your home, calls, texts and/or sends an email requesting this information in respect to your utility bill, without verifying that it is an authentic BPU call by either asking to see company identification or by calling BPU’s Customer Service Department.
- Be suspicious if you receive an email regarding your utility bill if you have not requested online communications from BPU.
- For customers using BPU’s online bill pay system, always make online payments directly through www.bpu.com.
- Never provide personal information via email or click any suspicious links or attachments. Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.
BPU is dedicated to combating impostor utility scams by providing resources for customers to recognize scams via our website, media outlets and social media content. For more information about how customers can protect themselves from fraud visit www.bpu.com/forhome/avoidfraud or follow BPU on Facebook and Twitter.
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.