COLUMBUS (WBNS) – AEP Ohio is warning its customers about potential scams that ask people to make immediate payments for overdue bills.
AEP says it does not demand immediate payments and urges anyone to call and verify their account balance by logging into the AEP Ohio mobile app or calling the utility’s number at 1-800-672-2231.
A viewer called 10 Investigates to warn us about a similar “immediate payment” scam in which he had been prompted to make an immediate payment to what he thought was AEP by using a bitcoin machine inside a Columbus mall. The viewer, who asked not to be identified, said he did not submit a payment but wanted to warn others.
He said it was convincing because the would-be scammers provided him with a QR code and a printout with AEP’s logo on it.
“This is the first time we have heard this – this is not something that AEP Ohio does. The scammers are getting more creative now – they are using our logos , they are mimicking how we handle our operations,” said Brett Schmied with AEP Ohio.
10 Investigates is not publishing the number that called the viewer, but AEP verified that the number is not associated with the utility.
After learning this, 10 Investigates called the number provided to us by the viewer. The call includes voice prompts and begins by saying “welcome to AEP’s customer solutions center.” The man who answered the phone claimed to work for AEP’s “disconnection department.” At first he claimed he was with AEP but when pressed for if this number was legitimate, he hung up.
The number was no longer working on Tuesday.
AEP Ohio says it was not aware of this particular potential scam until it was notified by 10 Investigates about the method involved.
“We are not going to demand immediate payment. Even if you do owe money we want to make sure that we are working with you in doing that,” said Brett Schmied with AEP Ohio. “One of the things that customers need to do if they feel there is any suspicious call - if they are comforted from a person to person standpoint – end that call immediately call our 1-800 672- 2231. And we will be able to verify them.”