FORT WALTON BEACH — Gulf Power is reporting an increase in scams involving its customers. Since Jan. 1, the company’s Customer Care Center has received over 400 reports of this criminal activity.
Scammers target Gulf Power’s residential and business customers and are known to attempt a variety of scams, including posing as a Gulf Power employee contacting customers door-to-door, over the phone and online. Scammers often threaten disconnection unless immediate payment is made via phone or in person.
The company offered the tips below for its customers.
Spot a scam
Gulf Power will not show up to a customer’s home or business to collect on a payment. If an account becomes past due and is subject to disconnection, Gulf Power will contact the customer via a prerecorded message to the primary account telephone and by letter requesting that the customer call Gulf Power to discuss the account.
Gulf Power will never ask for any form of payment over the phone or through email. Customers have reported that scammers will call, usually in a very aggressive tone, requesting for payment through a credit card, pre-paid debit card or gift card. Hang up, delete the email and contact the company's customer service line at 1-800-225-5797 to report it.
If a Gulf Power employee has a service-related reason to visit a home or business, customers will in most cases receive notice of the visit beforehand and the employee will always be wearing a Gulf Power employee ID badge with their photo, company’s name and logo.
Gulf Power employees or contractors may show up without advance notice for the following situations: Lineworkers making repairs or contractors conducting tree trimming, surveying, testing or meter work along with other services such as installing new underground and overhead lines. Ask them for identification or ask to see their supervisor, who should have a Gulf Power contractors’ badge. When in doubt, customers can verify the contractor by calling Gulf Power customer service.
Don’t make immediate payment. Do not share credit card or debit card information or purchase a prepaid card or gift card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Don't pay anywhere other than an Authorized Payment Location.
If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email or shut the door. To verify the payment request, contact Gulf Power customer service.
Report the scam. If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, shut the door and call Gulf Power’s customer service phone number. Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities.