Houston, TX - November 16, 2016 – CenterPoint Energy is proud to join fellow utilities in the gas and electric sectors to observe Utilities United Against Scams Day (UUASD) on Wednesday, November 16, and raise awareness about utility scams throughout the week.
Most utility scams involve criminals posing as electric, gas or water provider employees - either in person or over the phone or internet - demanding immediate payment via cash or reloadable debit cards, supposedly in order to prevent service disconnection. These criminals can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including the elderly and non-native English speakers. However, with the right information customers can learn to avoid and report these scams.
CenterPoint Energy employees will never contact customers and threaten them with service disconnection. Any individual posing as a CenterPoint Energy employee who will not direct a customer to the Interactive Voice Response system or to our website to collect payment information, should be considered suspicious and reported to CenterPoint Energy and local authorities.
Customers who believe they have been targeted by utility scammers should follow these tips:
- Hang up the phone or close the door and call your utility company’s verified direct phone number. If you are in the Houston area and the scam is about your electric service, you can find this number on your Retail Electric Provider’s website or on your electric utility bill. If related to your gas service, you can find the appropriate contact information on your CenterPoint Energy natural gas bill, or by visiting CenterPointEnergy.com. Do not give the caller or visitor a prepaid card, such as a Green Dot card, a wire transfer or any other form of payment that may be difficult to trace.
- Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.
- Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider or that require immediate action to provide or verify personal information.
- Contact your local police through the non-emergency telephone number, or your state attorney general’s office, or contact the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
UUASD is a collaborative effort among the electric, gas and water utility industries to help prevent utility service fraud through education, awareness and customer advocacy initiatives. A primary goal of this collective effort is to help customers learn how to identify and avoid utility-related scams.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and energy services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company also owns a 55.4 percent limited partner interest in Enable Midstream Partners, a publicly traded master limited partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp., which owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With more than 7,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 140 years. For more information, visit the website at CenterPointEnergy.com.