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What Does Proactive Prevention of Utility Scams Look Like? FPL Speaks Out

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Nevelyn Black's picture
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Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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Have your residential or small business customers become victims of fraud?  With so many moratoriums expiring and service shut-offs resuming, the rate of fraud has increased substantially. “Anyone and everyone, from senior households to small-business owners, is at risk of being targeted,” said Monica Martinez, of Utilities United Against Scams. How can utilities prevent their customers from becoming victims?  What measures have other businesses taken to thwart the efforts of such dishonest gains?

Wildly adored sweepstakes company, Publishers Clearing House (PHC) posts clearly on their site that ‘At PCH the winning is always free and you NEVER have to pay to claim a prize.’  At the top of the home page on the Social Security Administration website a red banner asks, 'What should I do if I get a call claiming there’s a problem with my social security number or account?’ Clicking on the banner, a page with detailed information explains on how best to avoid scams.  

Florida Power & Light (FPL) is warning customers about predators posing as utility representatives calling to demand payment and threatening to immediately shut-off power.  “What I want our customers to understand is that FPL will never call threatening disconnection and demanding payment via prepaid card or wire transfer,” FPL spokesperson Matt Eissey said.  Scammers also call offering customers reimbursement for power outages and asking for bank account information to send the refund.  They have even emailed customers saying there was an error in the system and that they need personal information on the account to turn the gas back on.

Visiting several utility company websites, like Xcel Energy, I was able to find information on Avoiding Scams but how can proactive customer care protect customers? In the past, businesses would react to problems presented by the customer but today companies need to anticipate potential problems and notify the customer beforehand. Website updates and mobile communications about scams are reacting to the problem but what additional actions can be taken to proactively protect customers before they are duped? In general, proactive customer service can provide personalization, extra feedback, better problem-solving and long-term brand loyalty. Improved costumer engagement is a constant feature at any business but the same tactics could be applied toward helping customers help themselves.  FPL’s Christopher Chapel discussed changes they’ve made, “Our commitment is to our customers and their safety and we created the online scam reporting feature to help customers report scam incidents faster and easier.”  Communication is the key to excellent customer support and warning customers at every point of contact should be a priority.  

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