Riverside Public Utilities Joins American Public Power Association’s Utilities United Against Scams Day
Riverside, Calif. – Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) has joined forces with the American Public Power Association (APPA) to promote their “Utilities United Against Scams Day” Wednesday, November 16, encouraging customers to be aware of payment scams which threaten to shut down utility services immediately, unless a payment is made.
“There are a number of telephone and in-person deceptions that prey on customer fears that their utilities services will be discontinued unless a payment is made immediately,” said Riverside Public Utilities General Manager Girish Balachandran. “Our customers, as well as those across the country, need to know about these scams and the scare tactics that they use so they can avoid falling prey to them,” Balachandran said. For example, RPU would never call a customer and ask for personal payment information, nor request payment in person at a customer’s home or business.
Customers of RPU are only contacted via paper billing statements, online billing emails, through late payment reminder mailings, or green 48-hour Notice notification tags placed at utility property sites only, and any RPU personnel out in the community drive clearly marked city vehicles, wear city uniforms, and display proper photo identification. Any late payment contact by Riverside Public Utilities would only come from its Credit and Collections Department.
Unfortunately, scams like this have been going on nationwide for several years. Some feature live callers, others automated messages, that threaten to shut down utility services unless an immediate payment is made by providing personal banking info, credit card info, or a PayPal account (or similar). Additional utility bill payment scams that have affected RPU customers include: requests by customers to pay for meter change outs to avoid high bills; and the use of telephone number scramblers, which can trick caller identification software to make it look like the calls are coming from the utility, but falsely represent RPU’s customer service telephone number of (951) 782-0330.
While the phone number is RPU’s main phone for customer accounts, billing questions, and for reporting 24-hour water or power emergencies, for security reasons it will never appear on a customer’s caller ID. Customers who have any questions about suspicious calls demanding payments are encouraged to hang up with callers, and report them by calling the city’s call center by dialing 311, or (951) 826-5311.\
Since 1895, Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) has provided high quality, safe, and reliable electric and water services to the residents of Riverside, CA. RPU remains committed to increasing its use of renewable energy resources and promoting sustainable living practices, and is actively planning and implementing essential energy and water infrastructure improvements that will better serve this and future generations.