Pennsylvania Utilities, Law Enforcement Join to Fight Utility Imposters

June 2, 2015
House resolution designates June 8 to 12 as Utility Imposter Awareness Week across the commonwealth

The Keystone Alliance to Stop Utility Imposters, a coalition of local water, gas and electric utilities, announced that it has joined forces with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), Pennsylvania District Attorneys Assn. and Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Assn. to launch a public awareness campaign about criminals impersonating utility workers to gain access and rob homeowners.

Members of the Keystone Alliance to Stop Utility Imposters joined State Representative Mike Regan (R-York) at a Capitol Rotunda news conference to announce House Resolution 341 declaring the week of June 8 to 12, 2015, as Utility Imposter Awareness Week in Pennsylvania.

“Sadly, the number of incidents of imposters posing as legitimate utility workers is increasing, and House Resolution 341 calls attention to this reprehensible activity,” Regan said. “I support the Keystone Alliance and their efforts to help others from being victimized.”

Across Pennsylvania, thieves have gained access to residents’ homes by posing as utility workers. Once inside the home, the imposters typically divert the resident’s attention by sending him/her to another floor while they or an accomplice robs the home. The Keystone Alliance to Stop Utility Imposters formed to educate consumers on how to protect themselves via a new public awareness campaign with print, broadcast and online media advertisements.

“The PUC shares the concerns of utility providers and law enforcement, and supports the need for greater consumer awareness about utility worker imposters,” said PUC Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer. “We are happy to join the participating utilities in this important effort as they strengthen their outreach on safety and continue to build strong relationships with their customers.”

At the news conference, the Keystone Alliance to Stop Utility Imposters unveiled its media campaign aimed at informing consumers about the illicit practices of utility imposters. For example, the coalition’s ads inform customers that impersonators are not easy to spot. Homeowners are advised that before letting any worker into their house to always check for a company-issued photo ID.

“It is extremely rare for a utility employee to show up at a customer’s home without an appointment. However, if someone comes to your door claiming to be from the local utility and you are not expecting them, do not let them inside without proper identification,” said Louise Knight, chairperson, Pennsylvania Chapter of National Association of Water Companies.

The coalition’s campaign materials were designed by Meinert/Mashek, a Pittsburgh-based agency. In addition to television and radio public service announcements, the member utilities will distribute the newly created communications tools among their customers to raise awareness.

“We support this effort. Customer safety is paramount,” said Christopher Cardenas, PPL Electric Utilities’ customer services vice president. “Virtually all visits to customer homes by our employees or contractors are prearranged with the customer and proper identification is always worn. We advise customers to check with us if there are any questions at all. “

Cardenas said the resolution also should serve to highlight the issue of phone scams. In those cases, thieves target customers with a false claim the customer is behind on their bill and will have service shut off if an immediate payment is not made with a pre-paid debit card.

Source: American Water

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