Scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission has noted illegal activity involving alleged government, medical and IRS callers among others.
Calls from scammers to homes and businesses posing as NIPSCO employees continue to occur, said a news release from NIPSCO, based in Merrillville.
This issue is impacting many energy companies around the United States. In April, Utilities United Against Scams reported an uptick in utility scams.
Recent and common reports from NIPSCO residential and business customers state that they have received calls and texts from people claiming to be NIPSCO employees and demanding payment to avoid their service being disconnected.
NIPSCO emphasized it does not demand immediate payment by meeting in person or using a specific type of payment method.
“If a customer receives a suspicious call like this, they should hang up and immediately contact NIPSCO’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-464-7726 to check on the status of their account. Additionally, customers should not call any number they are given,” said the news release.
Because of the financial impact on customers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, NIPSCO voluntarily suspended shutoffs for non-payment and waived late fees in mid-March, prior to the issuance of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order. When the executive order expires, NIPSCO plans to continue suspending shutoffs for non-payment until further notice to provide additional help to customers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, said the news release.
“We will provide advanced notice and communications following any changes to these decisions and we will continue to work with customers on our most flexible arrangements. Assistance is available and to learn more, please visit NIPSCO.com or you can speak with a representative,” it says.
Additional tips for customers to avoid potential scams, include:
• Call NIPSCO if you are unsure about a phone call, email, program, offer or person claiming to be affiliated with NIPSCO. The customer care center is available 24 hours a day at 800-464-7726.
• Guard your personal information. Never give personal information, including a NIPSCO account number, Social Security number or banking information to unconfirmed sources.
• Know your payment options. NIPSCO will never ask for a prepaid debit card or money gram as a payment method. More information about valid payment options are at NIPSCO.com/bills-and-payments.
• Never agree to meet in person. Some scammers ask customers to meet them in person to make payments with cash or prepaid cards.
• If a person visits a home or business, demand identification.
• Use caution with cash. NIPSCO employees do not collect cash payments or deliver cash refunds or rebates to customers. Refrain from sending cash through the mail to prevent loss or theft.
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