TYLER, Texas — After winter storms caused massive power outages across Texas, reports of a surge in scam calls for people pretending to be the electricity provider Oncor have surged.
Oncor is reminding its customers they will never contact them by phone, text or in-person to demand payment, or threaten you with power disconnection.
If you are getting calls or texts, do not pick up or respond and immediately call Oncor to verify if it was them attempting to contact you.
"If it is someone from Oncor calling you we will have that on file" Oncor spokesperson Jen Myers said. "If its not someone from Oncor calling you we want to know about it and we want that reported a scam so that we can help educate others."
You can file a report by calling Oncor at 888-313-6862.
Here are some signs a scammer may be trying to contact you disguised as Oncor:
Fraudulent contact information: Scammers often use email, website addresses, phone numbers and message recordings that look and sound authentic. Those impersonating Oncor may claim that the phone number they are using is different than the number on a customer’s regular utility bill due to telework status. While phone scams account for 75 percent of all imposter scams, email or text communication may also be attempted.
Door-to-door imposters: Scammers may claim they are “responding to reports of scammers in the neighborhood,” “are on-site to perform unscheduled work that requires payment,” or any other excuses to gain customers’ money or personal information.
Disconnection threat: Scammers may aggressively tell a customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment is not made – typically using a prepaid debit card or another non-refundable form of payment.
Meter payment: The imposter may instruct a customer to use cash or quickly buy a prepaid debit card to cover the cost of a new meter, a meter upgrade, or some other form of unscheduled on-site work.
Information Request: The scammer will insist that a recent payment encountered a system glitch and was not completed, and then asks the customer to make a false payment or otherwise provide personal account information.
However, there are ways you can protect yourself:
Do not give out credit card information or purchase prepaid cards: Oncor will never ask to collect money to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. We also will never ask customers to make payments with a prepaid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency, or third-party digital payment mobile applications. If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or text, or shut the door.
Be wary when a stranger comes to your home: Oncor representatives do not need to enter your home for any reason, especially to perform work. If someone claims to work for Oncor and tries to enter your home, do not let them into your house or go anywhere with them. Call 911 if you fear for your safety.
Always ask for photo identification: Oncor employees and authorized contractors performing work for Oncor will always carry company identification and wear company uniforms. Even if you are expecting an Oncor representative to perform some type of service at your property, always request and verify identification.