Mississippi Power Company warns customers of scams claiming power will be disconnected
Published 1:54 pm Thursday, April 1, 2021
Mississippi Power Company saw attempts to scam their customers nearly double in 2020 and are encouraging customers to stay educated about phone scams.
In 2019, Mississippi Power customers reported a little over 130 scam phone calls. That number went up to 240 in 2020, said Mississippi Power Security Investigator Chris Loposser. There was a peak in scam phone calls right after the pandemic began and another spike in late summer. Loposser thinks customers are more likely to answer calls from strange numbers with more people stuck at home.
So far in 2021, the company has had 40 scam phone calls reported. Most of the customers who reported the scams did not fall prey to them, said Loposser, but the company wants to make sure customers are alert.
Loposser said customers who rely on power to run a business like a restaurant or elderly customers with oxygen bottles are especially vulnerable to these scams.
Typically the scammer uses a spoof number to call and claims to be a Mississippi Power employee. The scammers may attempt to get personal information, including a customer’s name, address and banking information. The scammer typically claims that electricity service will be cut within the next 30 minutes if the customer does not acquire a pre loadable card and make a payment.
The scam is similar to law enforcement scam calls that claim there is a warrant out for someone’s arrest and demand immediate payment.
“It’s all the same style. They’re essentially saying you have a limited time frame to pay a certain amount of money to eliminate something bad happening to you.”
Such scams are difficult to prosecute, as spoofed phone numbers can be an investigative dead end and some scammers are operating overseas, said Loposser.
Mississippi Power Company never calls a customer and demands payment over the phone with the threat of immediate disconnection of services.
“We understand that removing power from somebody is very difficult for their life. Our company goes through a lot of steps to prevent somebody from losing power.”
Before power is cut off, the company offers payment plans and gives customers opportunities to pay overdue bills. Cut offs are never made out of the blue, said Loposser.
Communications are made through official channels like mail or e-mail. If customers receive a suspicious phone call, or communication they are suspicious of, they can call the customer service line at 1-800-532-1502 to verify their account information. If customers receive scam calls, they are encouraged to report the call to local law enforcement and to Mississippi Power Company.
When Mississippi Power Company staff do contact people in the field they typically have three things: a Mississippi Power uniform, a vehicle with a Mississippi Power logo and a Mississippi Power badge with their name and photograph.
“Even if they do possess those three and the customer doesn’t feel good, call the customer service number. They can easily verify the employee’s name.”