It’s International Fraud Awareness Week and Utility Scam Awareness Day. Customers should always beware of utility imposters.

In recent years, utilities have seen an increase in reported scammers who are contacting customers seeking payments and personal and financial information to avoid service interruptions.

Atmos Energy has joined Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to raise awareness of these scammers by reminding Mississippians that this week is International Fraud Awareness Week.  Also, it is the seventh annual Utility Scam Awareness Day, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers. This year’s theme is ‘Uniting to #StopScams.’

“Beware of bogus emails or texts requesting immediate payment of your bill, particularly with prepaid debit cards,” said Bobby Morgan, Atmos Energy Vice President of public affairs. “Also, beware of impostors demanding payment at your door – our employees will not collect payments in person. Always ask for an employee’s identification badge, which displays name, photograph, and Atmos Energy logo. If you suspect an impostor, call our customer service number at 888.286.6700 to verify the employee’s identity and contact local authorities.”

UUAS, a consortium of more than 150 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, continues to raise customer awareness of common scams and new scam tactics being used by utility impostors. Through its work and with the help of customer reporting, UUAS has successfully helped to take nearly 13,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers out of operation.

“Scammer tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but utility impostor scams are oftentimes as simple as a scammer posing as a customer’s local utility, calling and threatening to shut off their service unless they provide payment,” said Monica Martinez, executive director of UUAS. “Customers shouldn’t be afraid to end a call that they suspect is a scam. You can always end the call and dial the number on your utility’s bill or on the utility website to confirm. Most utilities will send overdue notices in the mail rather than by calling, and they always provide several notices that help educate customers about the options available to help them manage financial hardships.”

Fraud does not only impact customers; it also cost utility providers.  Companies lose an estimated 5% of their revenue annually due to fraud, according to Occupational Fraud 2022: A Report to the Nations.

As a reminder, Atmos Energy says it will never ask for payments using a pre-paid debit card, gift card, cryptocurrencies, or third-party digital payment mobile applications. Atmos Energy will also provide multiple notices and work to assist customers with payment plan options before service interruptions.

Customers who suspect fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact local law enforcement authorities. Atmos Energy also encourages customers to contact their customer service team at 888.286.6700, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST should they have any questions or concerns.