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Imposter scams, online shopping are top fraud categories
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Nov. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With utility scams on the rise, it is more important than ever for customers to be vigilant and know what steps to take to prevent themselves or their families from falling victim.
Chattanooga Gas is joining 150 U.S. and Canadian energy companies Nov. 15-19 for Utility Scam Awareness Week, a weeklong annual campaign created by Utilities United Against Scams, to raise awareness of and help educate customers on the tactics used by scammers.
"The safety and well-being of our customers is our top priority," said Pedro Cherry, Chattanooga Gas president and CEO. "That's why we're partnering with energy companies across the country to educate our communities about this important issue throughout Utility Scam Awareness Week. The first step in protecting our customers from a scam is making them aware of the common tactics that scammers use."
According to the Federal Trade Commission, imposter scams cost consumers more than $3.3 billion in 2020 – an increase of nearly $1.5 billion from 2019. Nearly $1.2 billion of the losses reported were due to imposter scams.
In recent years, scammers have gotten deceptively creative with increased calls, texts, emails and in-person tactics, contacting electric and gas customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection.
Chattanooga Gas strongly encourages customers to stay vigilant of potential scam activity such as:
Threats to disconnect their natural gas service – usually within an hour – if payment is not made
Requests that payments be made from a single method, such as a debit card, prepaid card, checking account, cryptocurrency or to send funds via a mobile app to make a bill payment
Claims they have overpaid, and their banking account or credit card number is needed for a refund
Requests to vacate their home so that a meter or other natural gas equipment can be replaced
Suggestions through social media that their bill will be covered by a charity after they make a partial payment by way of a wire transfer
Chattanooga Gas holds itself accountable to customers and the communities it serves, which is why it reminds customers that it will never use aggressive or intimidating tactics to pressure them into making a payment toward their natural gas bill.
By phone: When a customer service representative contacts a customer by phone regarding the status of their account or to discuss payment, they will identify themselves as a Chattanooga Gas employee. To verify the legitimacy, customers can request that the representative confirm information about their account that only they and the company would know, for example:
By email: Chattanooga Gas will never ask for account or credit card information in an email. Customers can safely access and make changes to their account information and payment methods using the secure My Account online portal.
Customers who suspect or experience fraud should hang up, delete the email or shut the door, then immediately contact local authorities.
In addition, whenever a field service representative or one of Chattanooga Gas' contractors visits a customer's home or business, they will provide Chattanooga Gas photo identification. And, as an additional safety measure, customers who sign up to receive the company's Keep Me Informed appointment status text messages can access a photo of the technician assigned to perform work at their property.
For more information, visit chattanoogagas.com/fraudprotection.
About Chattanooga Gas
Chattanooga Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Chattanooga Gas provides retail natural gas sales and transportation services to approximately 69,000 customers in Hamilton and Bradley counties in southeast Tennessee. The Chattanooga Gas service area includes the communities of Chattanooga, Cleveland, Red Bank, East Ridge, Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain. For more information, visit chattanoogagas.com.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America's premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.
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SOURCE Chattanooga Gas