KCP&L is warning its customers of a dramatic increase in reported scammers posing as KCP&L employees over the phone. KCP&L scam report tracking shows that 326 attempted utility collection call scams were reported in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 185 in 2017, a 76 percent increase. Of these reports, 251 were identified as unique scams during the first quarter of 2018 compared to 124 during the first quarter of 2017, a 102 percent year-over-year increase.
“Phone scams are a real problem that affect our customers, both residential and business, no matter which part of our service area you live,” said Steven Glenn, KCP&L’s manager of revenue protection. “Awareness is key. Anytime a call is received, specifically requesting payment by means of a pre-paid card, consumers should beware of a scam and take precautions.”
With the most current phone scam, the caller is often a live person posing as a KCP&L employee who notifies the customer of a past due bill and demands immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Scammers will often manipulate the caller ID to look like a legitimate KCP&L phone number. Most frequently, the caller requests the customer purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card to pay their bill. If the customer is unable to make an immediate payment or does not answer, the caller gives a return phone number that is often not the KCP&L number they appear to be calling from.
In addition to this scam, there are several other scams targeting utility customers. Some signs to spot a scam include:
- A threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell customers their utility bills are past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
- Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number and PIN, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
“If a customer feels they are being scammed, the best thing they can do is to obtain and provide KCP&L the scammer’s requested callback number,” said Doug Alexander, KCP&L’s manager of security.
KCP&L does complete outbound calls to customers through an automated system as well as a manual dialing process. With these calls, there is never an immediate demand for payment, nor would a customer ever be directed to purchase a prepaid card. KCP&L will take payments over the phone and communicate to a customer that their service is in jeopardy of field disconnect activity if a bill past due is not paid.
Due to valued customer reports, KCP&L has worked in conjunction with Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities (and their respective trade associations) to quickly shut down many of these fraudulent phone numbers and in an attempt to thwart these scams.
Visit the UUAS website for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from scams. If customers ever have questions about the legitimacy of a bill, phone call or email regarding their utility bill, they should refrain from providing any personal or banking information, hang up and contact the KCP&L Customer Contact Center at (888) 471-5275 or (816) 471-5275.
If you feel you have been a victim of this scam, please work with your local law enforcement agency to report the crime. For more information, visit www.kcpl.com/scamalert.