January 8, 2020 338 PM
WEST TEXAS – AEP Texas has learned that a new round of utility scams have begun along with the new year. The attempted scams this week have targeted West Texas; however, the attempts are expected to move to other parts of the AEP Texas service territory.
Callers claiming to be AEP Texas employees are contacting businesses and residents, threatening to disconnect their electric service unless an immediate payment is made. But AEP Texas is not making these calls, and the company advises, “Don’t be a victim.”
In some cases, individuals are either calling or going door-to-door telling residents or businesses that their electric meter needs to be changed out and asking for either a deposit or payment to complete the process and avoid disconnection of service.
AEP Texas, headquartered in Corpus Christi, serves over 1 million electricity consumers in the Texas marketplace. As an energy delivery company, AEP Texas delivers electricity safely and reliably to homes, businesses and industries across its nearly 100,000-square-mile service territory in south and west Texas. AEP Texas also maintains and repairs its lines, collects data from advanced meters, and handles service connections and disconnections as directed by the retail electric providers selling electricity in the area.
AEP Texas employees do not proactively contact customers demanding payment to replace an electric meter. AEP Texas periodically replaces meters; however, AEP Texas employees do not seek payment in order to remove and replace the meter.
Scammers are calling consumers within the AEP Texas service territory and threatening to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made. The Texas-based energy delivery company says they do not bill the end-use customer. The end-use customer is billed by the retail electric provider. AEP Texas disconnects customers for non-payment as instructed by the retail electric provider.
Other scam tactics include telling customers they need a new electric meter, but must make a payment before the new meter is installed, demanding a deposit is paid immediately or offering a discount on a utility bill if consumers sign up for auto-pay. AEP Texas warned that as a distribution and transmission company, they do not bill end-use customers.
The company is suggesting customers call their retail electric provider to verify the current account balance and date a payment is due. The correct phone number is shown on customers’ monthly electricity bill. Calling a number left on phone message may connect you with the scammer — not your retail electric provider, according to AEP Texas.
The retail electric provider –– not AEP Texas –– will notify customers that their account is past due and their electric service will be disconnected –– never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
Customers, who suspect or experience fraud, or feel threatened during contact with one of these scam calls, should contact local authorities, and then AEP Texas at 1- 877-373-4858.
AEP Texas continues to educate customers about scams through messages on AEPTexas.com, through social media and public service announcements. AEP Texas also is working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers.