During the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers have increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person contact with utility customers, fraudulently asking for immediate payment to avoid termination of service. Thankfully, through its own work and with the help of customer feedback, Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) has eliminated nearly 9,500 toll-free numbers that had been used by scammers to dupe utility customers.
“Atmos Energy is committed to providing exceptional customer service, and we strive to protect our customers from the harmful effects of a utility impostor scam,” said Jeff Martinez, Atmos Energy vice president of customer service. “Scams often begin with a call, text message, or email pretending to be from a trusted contact asking to send money or share personal information. We are thankful to join UUAS and utility companies across North America to reveal crooked scammer tactics so our customers can better shield their financial and personal data.”
Atmos Energy will never send a lone notification to customers within one hour of a service disconnection and will never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency, or a third-party mobile payment application. Customers who receive a suspicious email, phone call, text, or knock at the door should remember the following tips:
Slow down. Scammers typically try to rush customers and will ask for personal information and immediate payment.
Verify. Scammers often pose as utility company employees. Always ask for an employee’s identification badge, which displays name, photograph, and Atmos Energy logo. If you suspect an impostor, call the Atmos Energy customer service number at 888.286.6700 immediately to verify the employee's identity and contact local authorities.
Stop before you act. Think about the information the caller or potential scammer is asking of you. If it seems unsafe or incorrect, rethink the situation and ask questions.
“Customers need to be on high alert as we continue to see impostor utility scams rise across North America,” said Monica Martinez, UUAS executive director. “Scammers demand money or personal information on the spot—usually with threatening language—and indicate that service will be disconnected immediately. Anyone and everyone, from senior households to small business owners, is at risk of being targeted.”
UUAS continues to create awareness of common scams and new tactics being used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is no surprise that scammers have been seeking to exploit the heightened anxiety of people coping with the pandemic,” said Jared Lawrence, UUAS founder and executive committee chairman. “I am proud to report that UUAS’ education efforts and utilities’ well-publicized customer testimonials have prevented a drastic increase in victims. However, the relentless attempts by these criminals make it clear that we must continue to actively work to protect our customers and to keep scammers from casting confusion on our pandemic recovery messages.”
Customers who suspect fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact local law enforcement authorities and the Atmos Energy customer service team at 888.286.6700, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST.
For more information and tips to protect against impostor utility scams:
Visit Atmos Energy’s website at https://www.atmosenergy.com/customer-service/beware-utility-scams.
Visit the UUAS website at www.utilitiesunited.org.
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/.