Gov. warns against utility scams

Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear is assuring Kentuckians they do not have to worry about their electric or utility services cut for nonpayment.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, scammers are contacting individuals claiming to be their utility service provider and threatening to shut off their service because of nonpayment or late fees, according to a news release.

However, Beshear previously signed an executive order suspending such disconnections of all utility entities regulated by the Public Service Commission (PSC). He said residents should not be worried, just aware.

“Do not send payment to scammers threatening to cut off your electricity or other utilities," Beshear warned after members of Kentucky electric co-ops reported receiving calls from someone claiming to work for the local utility and threatening to disconnect their service without immediate payment.

“The Kentucky Public Service Commission issued an order that halts disconnections for nonpayment and fees for late payments. Anyone threatening to cut off your electricity during the COVID-19 emergency is likely a scammer,” Beshear said in the release.

One example of a PSC-regulated provider in Madison County is Kentucky Utilities and LG&E, which has stopped disconnections in response to the order signed on March 16.

The governor also noted a vast majority of cities and non-PSC-regulated entities have been voluntarily not disconnecting and not assessing late payment fees since the middle of March.

One is Richmond Utilities, a municipal utility owned by the city of Richmond.

According to Scott Althauser, the facility's general manager, RU has not been running disconnections since March and throughout April, even though it is not required to do so.

“The last two months, we have not issued late notices, and we have not run disconnections in the months of March and April,” Althauser told The Register previously.

All groups agree no one should have to be worried during this time.

“No matter who you are or where you are in the commonwealth — you are protected from being disconnected for nonpayment,” Beshear stated.

To help lower chances of falling victim to a scam, use the following tips:

• Know your utility services cannot be disconnected at this time for nonpayment

• If you receive a call from someone pretending to be your utility representative, hang up and do not give them personal or financial information

• Call the publicly listed number for the utility company to verify your account status

• If you are making a payment to your utility company during this time, double check that you are on the correct website, and not a fake replica, before submitting credit card or banking information.

Individuals who suspect they have been contacted by a scammer should call the Consumer Protection Hotline at: 1-888-432-9257.

In other business related to the coronavirus, the Madison County Health Department reported one new case in Madison County Wednesday. However, a previously reported case was removed from the county's total "due to receipt of new lab information," the daily update states.

That means the total cases in Madison County is 36, and as of Wednesday, 28 were recovered.

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