BBB warns against payment scams – The Rock River Times
By Dennis Horton
Better Business Bureau
Rockford, IL (September 6, 2022) – When temperatures rise or fall to extremes and electricity consumption increases, ComEd and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) have observed scammers taking advantage of these conditions to swindle customers out of their hard-earned money.
Complaints received by the BBB Scamtracker reflect reports spanning all ages, with the largest demographic being 18-54, and many of these scam attempts are door-to-door.
In July 2022, following a period of extreme heat in the first five weeks of summer, ComEd received nearly 280 customer scam reports, which is significantly higher than the 80 reports received in July 2021 The last time ComEd saw a significant increase in reported scam incidents was in February 2022, when nearly 290 customers called ComEd following a bout of freezing temperatures in the Midwest in January. In addition to the increase in incidents reported in July, the amount of money customers allegedly lost to successful scams rose dramatically to almost $25,000. That compares to around $4,000 lost to scams in July 2021.
“At ComEd, the safety and security of our customers are among our most important goals. That’s why we constantly monitor trends and share what we learn to help individuals identify unscrupulous activity,” said Melissa Washington, Chief Client Officer and Senior Vice President of Client Operations at ComEd. “ComEd will never call a customer to demand immediate payment, especially with a bank card or mobile payment app.”
Dennis Horton, director of the Better Business Bureau’s Rockford Regional Office, says, “Our research shows that scammers are more successful if they can scare victims or create a sense of urgency. Unfortunately, energy impostor scams exhibit both of these characteristics. The BBB hears from consumers and business owners who felt they had to act quickly or their power would be cut off. Scammers will demand prompt payment and usually tell their victims to send money in an unconventional form of payment.
“We always urge people to contact the company directly to verify that the call is real. Also, to help protect your community, please report scams to BBB Scam Trackereven if you haven’t lost any money.
Based on reported incidents, scammers are contacting ComEd customers by phone, although some contact may be made by text or email, demanding payment into a particular account under the threat of immediate disconnection from the service. The imposter will ask the customer to use a mobile payment app, such as Cash App, QuickPay, Venmo, or Zelle, which often have higher transaction limits than prepaid cards. In some cases, the scammer will falsely claim not to have received payment, so the victim transfers money two or three times.
Tips to help identify scams
1. Utility employees will never call or visit a customer’s home or business to:
• Request direct payment with a prepaid payment card, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, or third-party payment app like Cash App, QuickPay, Venmo, or Zelle.
• Demand immediate payment.
• Ask for a ComEd account number or other personal information, such as a social security number, driver’s license number, or banking information.
2. To identify a genuine employee or ComEd communication, remember:
• All ComEd field employees wear a uniform with the ComEd logo and visibly display a company identification badge with the employee’s logo and name. ComEd recently changed its logo, so you may continue to see the old ComEd logo on uniforms, badges, and vehicles until it is phased out.
• Check the name on emails or websites and make sure they match the name and address of the company you are dealing with. Look for spelling mistakes or slight edits.
• Make a call to verify that the suspicious email or website is from a trusted source. Use a phone number from your personal business records or from the company’s official website and not the number provided in the email.
BBB asks anyone who encounters a scam to report it to BBB Scam Tracker no matter if the money was lost. Reporting these incidents helps protect your community.
ComEd urges anyone who believes they have been the target or victim of a scam to call ComEd at 1-800-EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661). To find out more visit ComEd.com/Scams.
ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NASDAQ: EXC), a Fortune 200 energy company with approximately 10 million electricity and natural gas customers – the largest number of customers in the United States. ComEd powers the lives of more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70% of the state’s population. For more information, visit ComEd.com and with the company on Facebook, Twitter, instagram and Youtube.
BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is a nonprofit organization that has served both consumers and trusted businesses for more than 96 years and is part of the IABBB. We help protect consumers from scams and provide a free database for consumers to see ratings and reviews of businesses to find businesses they can trust. We connect consumers with businesses they can trust. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) is the hub of the BBB network in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Like the BBBs, the IABBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers, instilling consumer trust and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all. Please visit BBB.org for more information.