Atmos Energy is Keeping Communities Safe: Scam Safety Reminders | Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy is Keeping Communities Safe: Scam Safety Reminders

Safety
June 28, 2021
By: Richard Mitschke, Vice President of Customer Service

Unfortunately, scammers continuously adapt and occasionally fool even the most sophisticated customers. They often begin with a call, text message, or email pretending to be from a trusted contact asking to send money or share personal information. During the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person contact with utility customers, fraudulently asking for immediate payment to avoid termination of service.

We want you and your family to always be safe, and here are a few common scams and tips to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Scammers often threaten immediate service disconnections. They ask for personal information or demand payments to prevent service interruptions.
  • Scammers have been taking advantage of increased online activities since the pandemic. They are asking for payments over the phone by using digital payment apps, bitcoin, or direct transactions with banking institutions.
  • Scammers are using tactics to prey on households with tight budgets. Scammers will inform customers that they have overpaid utility bills and are due a refund, but that they need their banking information in order to process the refund. Or they may claim that immediate bill payment will result in a discount or that a charitable donation can be made in exchange for bill payments.
  • Scammers also are posing as utility employees by saying the number showing on the caller ID is not the utility’s phone number because they are working from home due to COVID-19 policies.

Atmos Energy will never send a notification to customers within one hour of a service disconnection and will never ask customers to make payments with a prepaid debit card, gift card, any form of cryptocurrency, or a third-party mobile payment application. 

If you receive an email, phone call, text, or knock at the door, please keep the following tips in mind:

  • Slow down. Scammers typically try to rush customers and will ask for personal information and immediate payment.
  • Verify. Scammers often pose as utility company employees. If they are in-person, always ask for a company ID. If the scammer is on the phone, make sure they can verify they are with the utility. If you are unsure, hang up, close the door, or ignore the email and instead contact the utility directly by using the information on your most recent bill.
  • Stop before you act. Think about the information the caller or potential scammer is asking of you. If it seems unsafe or incorrect, rethink the situation and ask questions. 

Sadly, scammers are trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and the financial challenges that many customers are facing.  If you are struggling to pay your natural gas bill, we are here to help you find solutions to pay a past-due balance. Even if you have not qualified in the past, financial assistance from federal, state, and local programs related to COVID-19 is available through energy assistance agencies and state housing authorities.

No one knows when or how a scammer will appear, so it is important to understand the types of threats that are out there and to remember that we all could be targeted at any time. The pandemic has created unique situations for everyone, and it is easy to be caught off guard. We must continue to work together to raise awareness and must be vigilant of the fraudulent tactics being used. 

Richard Mitschke is the vice president of customer service at Atmos Energy.

Atmos Energy encourages customers who need help paying their natural gas bill to contact Atmos Energy’s customer service team at 888.286.6700 or visit https://www.atmosenergy.com/customer-service/bill-payment-assistance

For more information and tips to protect against impostor utility scams, please visit: