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Sep 1, 2022

From the Manager’s Desk - Know the Signs of a Scam

It’s no secret that consumers with a water, gas or electricity connection have long been targets for utility scams, but fraudsters have changed their tactics since the pandemic. As consumers became more reliant on technology for work, school and commerce, scammers noted these shifts and adapted their tactics to this changed environment.

Imposter scams are the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission. While scam artists may come to your door posing as a utility worker who works for the “power company,” in today’s more connected world, attempts are more likely to come through an electronic device, via email, phone or text.

Common Types of Scams

A scammer may claim you are overdue on your electric bill and threaten to disconnect your service if you don’t pay immediately. Whether this is done in person, by phone, text or email, the scammers want to scare you into immediate payment, so you don’t have time think clearly. If this happens over the phone, simply hang up. If you’re concerned about your bill, call us at 800-786- 7618. If the scam is by email or text, delete it before taking any action. Remember, Petit Jean Electric will never demand immediate payment after just one notice.

Some scammers may falsely claim you have been overcharged on your bill and say they want to give a refund. It sounds easy. All you have to do is click or press a button to initiate the process. If you proceed, you will be prompted to provide banking or other personal information. Instead of money going into your bank

account, the scammers can drain your account and use personal information such as a social security number for identity theft. If this “refund” scam happens over the phone, just hang up and block the phone number to prevent future robocalls. If this scam attempt occurs via email (known as a “phishing” attempt) or by text (“smishing”), do not click any links. Instead, delete it, and if possible, block the sender. When in doubt, contact us.

Defend Yourself Against Scams

Be wary of call or texts from unknown numbers. Be suspicious of an unknown person claiming to be a utility worker who requests banking or other personal information. Never let anyone into your home that you don’t know unless you have a scheduled appointment or reported a problem. Petit Jean Electric employees never go inside a home.

What should you do if you think you’ve encountered a utility payment scam?

  • Report the incident to Petit Jean Electric at 501-745-2493.
  • Verify the balance of your electric bill with a member service representative or through the Smarthub app.
  • File a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s office by calling 800-482-8982 or emailing consumer@ArkansasAG.gov.

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