Sadly, holidays a busy time for those who scam

Tired of your phone ringing with the callers trying everything under the sun to get into your bank account, to gain your Social Security number, to make you pay a purported bill under threat of a lawsuit or even prison?

Yes … we all are.

Scams come in many different forms, and those who scam are getting better at making fools of many of us.

So what to do?

Those who suspect a potential scam may call the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380.

You can also alert you utility provider, as many scammers pretend to be your water company, your electric provider, etc.

In fact, be aware that if someone claims to be a utility representative over the phone, or visits you in person and wants to enter your home, call the utility company first to verify that you are in fact speaking to a person from the utility.

The PUC wants us to remind residential customers that, if you are threatened with termination of utility service unless you arrange to pay off their bills over the phone, service will not be shut off until the utility company has taken the following steps:

r Send you a 10-day notice. Once you get the notice, the utility company has up to 60 days to shut off your service.

r Attempt to contact you three days prior to your shut-off date.

r During winter months (Dec. 1 through March 31), if the utility company cannot reach you at the time of termination, they will leave a 48-hour notice at your residence.

Here is more advice from the PUC:

r Utility supplier sales representatives are required to prominently display a photo ID showing their name and the name of the supplier for whom they are working.

r If not displayed, ask for identification.

r Suppliers will only need your account information when you are ready to make the switch.

r Utilities do not normally come to your door unless you have called them.

r If someone claims to be a utility representative and wishes to enter your home, call the utility company to verify if they have personnel in the area.

Telemarketing

r Ask for the name of the supplier.

r Ask for the price and other terms and conditions. Know and understand how it compares to your utility price.

r Only share account information over the phone if you are ready to make a switch.

r Do not feel pressured to make any decisions over the phone or immediately.

Above all else, if you feel your safety is threatened, you should immediately call your local police.

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