LOS ANGELES (November 21, 2019) – The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has joined with utilities nationwide in a campaign to warn and educate its customers about the tactics used by scammers to steal their money. The week-long National Scam Awareness Week, from November 18 to November 22, is an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on exposing the tactics used by scammers. This year’s theme is, ‘It Happened to Me, Don’t Let it Happen to You.’
“Phone scams are a growing problem across the country and we want to alert and warn both our residential and commercial customers of these scams so they can avoid becoming a victim of a crime. The more our customers understand how scammers operate, the better they can protect themselves,” said Sharon Grove, LADWP Assistant General Manager of the Customer Service Division. “It’s heart-breaking to hear stories of our customers who have either lost money to scammers or those customers who have called us stressed and scared about losing their service, when in fact someone has tried to trick them.’’
It is not uncommon for scammers to call, text, or email utility customers asking for immediate payment over the phone to avoid service disconnection. LADWP will never ask our customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, or any form of cryptocurrency over the phone to avoid service disconnection. We also will never ask a customer to meet an LADWP representative at a random or unofficial Department payment location that is not listed anywhere on our website or customer bill.
Hanging up on any suspicious calls, even if the phone number looks familiar, and dialing us directly at 800-DIAL-DWP, will ensure you are connected to LADWP’s call center. If you truly have a delinquent bill, an LADWP customer service representative will assist you with establishing a scheduled payment plan. Your options for payment are in-person at a customer service center via our online billpay service at www.ladwp.com. Or, you can pay via LADWP’s automated phone payment system, but never with live employees taking payment information over the phone.
An imposter also may pose as a utility worker in person to gain entry into your home to commit theft. Always ask to see an employee photo ID before allowing any workers into your home or business. You can also call LADWP to verify the authenticity of a call or visit.
In some instances customers may encounter LADWP field collection employees who can accept delinquent payments. These employees wear an official LADWP uniform, carry Department identification badges and drive Department vehicles. The employees use handheld devices that contain a customer’s account information. They will only accept cash or check and will provide the customer with an LADWP stamped receipt.
UUAS is a consortium of more than 140 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations. It has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.
“While our Utilities United Against Scams consortium has made significant progress during our four years of work to educate and protect customers, the criminals targeting our communities continuously adapt and occasionally fool even the most sophisticated customers,” said Jared Lawrence, vice president of customer operations at Duke Energy, and UUAS founder and executive committee chair.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact their local utility company or law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other information regarding impostor scams.