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BPU Observes Utility Scam Awareness Day

BPU Observes Utility Scam Awareness Day

Utilities across the nation recognize 7th annual Utility Scam Awareness Day

(KANSAS CITY, Ks.) —The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (BPU) continues to warn customers to be aware of utility scams. Today is Utility Scam Awareness Day, which is part of International Fraud Awareness Week. Utility Scam Awareness Day is an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers.

This campaign is orchestrated by Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) of which BPU reinforced efforts to raise public awareness of utility scams by joining UUAS five years ago. In fact, BPU was the first municipal utility in the region to join this group.

Scammers are trying a new tactic according to reports from some BPU customers. Callers, fraudulently claiming to be BPU representatives, are telling customers they have been overcharged on their electric bill and are owed a credit.

The individual asks for your credit card information to apply the refund. These calls are not from BPU. In most cases, the caller claims to be a BPU customer service representative to get the customer to provide credit card information or other personal information, telling the customer a check has bounced or he/she has a past-due bill.

According to BPU representatives, multiple reports have been made about calls stating if payment is not made, services will be shut off within 30 minutes. The caller claims to represent a local utility, and sometimes uses caller ID spoofing software to convince victims the call is from a real customer service number.

Imposters will often ask customers to use a pre-paid card for payment. BPU will never ask a customer to purchase a pre-paid debit card, gift card, or any form of cryptocurrency, to pay for service.

BPU never asks for payment over the phone or threatens to disconnect utilities due to non- payment. Customers that suspect they are being targeted by a scam need to hang up right away and call the BPU Customer Service Department at 913-573-9190. If you feel you have been a victim of a scam, please work with your local law enforcement agency to report the crime.

Although BPU sometimes uses pre-recorded messages or texts to notify customers about future dates for possible disconnection, they do not cold-call customers to demand immediate payment.

BPU offers these tips for customers to protect themselves if they are unsure about a call, email, or visit from a utility representative:

  • Never give credit or debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who comes to your door, calls, texts, and/or sends an email asking for information regarding your utility bill. Verify the request is authentic by either asking to see company identification or calling the BPU Customer Service Department.

  • Be suspicious if you receive an email regarding your utility bill if you have not requested online communications from BPU.

  • Never provide personal information via email or click any suspicious links or attachments.

BPU said electric customers have been targeted by scammers using a variety of such scam attempts for a number of years in several states besides Kansas, including Nebraska; Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; the District of Columbia; Florida; Louisiana; Maryland; Massachusetts; Mississippi; Missouri; New Jersey; New York; Oklahoma; Texas; Wisconsin; and New Mexico representing over 100 utilities.

For information and tips on how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, visit www.utilitiesunited.org

Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) is a consortium of more than 150 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations. UUAS is dedicated to combating impostor utility scams by providing a forum for utilities and trade associations to share data and best practices, in addition to working together to implement initiatives to inform and protect customers.

About BPU

BPU’s water department was originally created in 1909, and its electric utility was operational in 1912. The purpose of the utility, then and to this day, is to provide the highest quality electric and water services at the lowest possible cost. Today the publicly owned utility serves approximately 65,000 electric and 53,000 water customers, primarily in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The mission of the utility and its employees is “to focus on the needs of our customers, to improve the quality of life in our community while promoting safe, reliable and sustainable utilities.” BPU’s Web site is www.bpu.com.


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