Illinois Utilities, CUB, and ICC Come Together to Warn Chicago-area Consumers about Scam Artists

Warmer temperatures lead to increased scam activity

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Temperatures are not the only thing on the rise this spring; warmer
temperatures also bring about an increase in unwelcomed solicitations by
scam artists. ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, and North Shore Gas,
together with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Citizens
Utility Board (CUB), are joining forces to warn Chicago-area customers
about scam artists posing as utility representatives.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) states that the number of reported
scams generally rises with warmer weather. Nationally, there has been an
uptick in people claiming to be utility company workers over the past
several years. In fact, they are scam artists who pose as utility
workers and who usually target customers through door-to-door visits and
phone calls.

With the door-to-door scams, someone impersonating a utility worker will
visit customers’ homes looking to get personal and/or account
information, and in some cases enter into the customer’s home.
Variations of the phone scam include stories that the customer’s billing
cycle has changed and payment is needed immediately; the account is past
due and immediate payment is required to avoid disconnection of service;
or that the customer’s previous payments were not accepted or processed.
In those cases, the scammers instruct customers to buy a prepaid credit
card and direct them to call back with the personal identification
number (PIN).

“ComEd is committed to the safety of our customers, including keeping
them informed of activity that could impact their service or accounts.
Over the last several months we have seen an increase in phone
impersonations where scam artists call customers claiming they are a
utility representative and proceed to swindle unsuspecting victims out
of money or financial information,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice
president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd
. “We are
pleased to join with other Illinois utilities and the ICC and CUB to
amplify the information around this fraudulent activity and raise
greater awareness among our customers.”

“The Illinois Commerce Commission does not tolerate utility scams and it
commends the efforts of ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas,
and CUB for their collaboration on spreading consumer awareness,” said Chairman
Brien Sheahan
. “The ICC also reminds customers that in most cases,
utilities are required to provide advance notice prior to disconnection
of service and when in doubt customers should call the utility or visit
their website to verify their account status and the utility’s
authorized payment methods. Customers that believe they have been a
victim of a scam should contact the ICC’s Consumer Services Division at
1-800-524-0795 to report violations or to file a suspicious incident
report.”

“As the largest natural gas distributor in Illinois, the safety of our
people, our pipelines and the public is at the heart of everything we
do,” said Jim Griffin, vice president of Operations, Nicor Gas.
“Coming together to raise awareness and informing customers of these
dangerous scammers is critical in putting a stop to these predatory and
fraudulent tactics.”

“The safety of our customers is the top priority in everything we do;
whether it’s conducting home inspections, responding to gas leaks or
installing new piping,” said Eva-Dina Delgado, manager of Government
Relations for Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas
. “And, protecting our
customers from being victims of scams or imposters is equally as
important, which is why we regularly educate them on how to avoid
becoming a victim.”

The utility companies also are reminding customers that representatives
from their company always carry proper identification and never ask
customers for cash or personal or financial information.

“Utility imposter scams are despicable for two reasons: They take
advantage of our fear of losing a service we can’t do without, and they
slander the reputation of the honest, hard-working, front-line utility
employees who keep our service running on a daily basis,” CUB
Communications Director Jim Chilsen
said. “As with any scam, good
education and a strong community response are the best weapons against
these con artists. Get the facts, protect yourself, and spread the word
in your neighborhood: Utility workers don’t go door-to-door or call you
seeking private financial information.”

Anyone who believes he or she has been a target of a phone scam is urged
to contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office toll free at
1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013) or visit the Illinois Attorney
General’s web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov
and click on the link “Protecting Consumers.”

Don’t Get Scammed: Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few
precautions:

  • Never provide social security or personal information to anyone
    initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or
    requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than
    your local utility providers.
  • Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any
    utility worker into your home or business.
  • When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals
    wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any
    doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to the door.
  • If customers have concerns about the status of their account, they can
    also contact their local utility providers:

    • ComEd 1-800-EDISON1
    • Nicor Gas 1-888-NICOR4U
    • Peoples Gas 866-556-6001
    • North Shore Gas 866-556-6004

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon
Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy
provider, with approximately 7.8 million customers. ComEd provides
service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois,
or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit
ComEd.com,
and connect with the company on
Facebook,
Twitter
and
YouTube.

About Nicor Gas

Nicor Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS), is
a natural gas distribution company that serves more than 2.1 million
customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern
third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information,
visit
www.nicorgas.com.

Peoples Gas, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: TEG),
is a regulated natural gas delivery company that serves approximately
831,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the city of
Chicago. For more information about Peoples Gas, visit the company’s
website:
www.peoplesgasdelivery.com.

North Shore Gas, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE:
TEG), is a regulated natural gas delivery company that serves
approximately 159,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers
located in 54 communities within the northern suburbs of Chicago. For
more information about North Shore Gas, visit
www.northshoregasdelivery.com.

Contacts

ComEd
Media Relations
(312) 394-3500