CONSUMER ALERT (COVID-19): PEPCO SCAM
During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, District residents should be on high alert for scammers, fraudsters, and predatory business practices. OAG has recently learned that some residents have received calls and texts purportedly on behalf of Pepco, offering an opportunity to sign up for a reduced service fee. Beware: This is a scam. The perpetrators are using Caller ID “spoofing” to disguise a phone number as a line connected to the utility.
During the District’s state of emergency, the Council passed a law prohibiting electric, gas and water utility companies from disconnecting service from any District household. However, the emergency protections do not provide for discounts, rebates, or other price reductions for utility service.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Utility Scams
If you receive a call or text from someone claiming to be from a utility company—whether they are offering rebates, discounts, or other incentives for your account upon provision of private information—do not advance the conversation. Hang up, and immediately call the utility company directly via the telephone number printed on your regular bill to confirm whether the offer is real. You can reach Pepco Customer Care at 202-833-7500 (Spanish: 202-872-4641) between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If you believe you have been scammed:
- Contact Metropolitan Police Department’s Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit at 202-727-4159 or email@example.com; and
- File a complaint with OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling (202) 442-9828, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling out an online consumer complaint form.
Here are some additional tips to safeguard against utility scams year-round:
- Refuse to give financial information over the phone: If you get a call asking for personal or financial information, or demanding payment, hang up and call the utility company directly at the telephone number on your bill. Remember, scam artists can use devices that make it appear on caller ID that their calls are coming from the utility company’s telephone numbers.
- Never pay with prepaid cards: Scammers often will ask for payment by prepaid cards, such as Google Store cards or Apple iTunes cards. Once money is taken from a prepaid card there is no way to get it back. It is always better to make payments with a credit card if you are financially able to do so.
Last year, OAG informed residents about a similar scheme in which fraudulent callers would threaten to shut off residents’ electric service within hours unless the residents pay amounts they supposedly owe to Pepco. The callers would then demand payments be made by prepaid card, money order or wire transfer—making it almost impossible for residents to recover their money after discovering they were scammed. Again, if you receive any calls like this, follow the tips above to protect yourself.
OAG’s COVID-19 Resources
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is teleworking until at least April 27. You can access OAG services online and over the phone during our telework period at:
- Website: oag.dc.gov
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: (202) 727-3400
- Fax: (202) 347-8922
- TTY: (202) 727-3400
For updates from OAG on COVID-19, consumer tips, resources, and warnings: Sign up for OAG’s newsletter, bookmark and visit OAG’s Coronavirus Information Page, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Know Your Rights: Read OAG’s Consumer Alert—available in multiple languages—to protect yourself from scams, price gouging, discrimination, and to get information about consumer, worker, and tenant rights during the pandemic.
For more District Government updates and how you can prevent the spread of germs, visit coronavirus.dc.gov