Don’t be scammed like this Kentucky hotel was, electric company warns

People posing as Kentucky Power employees took nearly $6,000 from a Hazard hotel through a scam in which they threatened to cut off electricity service if the hotel didn’t pay, according to the utility.

Two men wearing hard hats, tan pants and shirts with the logo of Kentucky Power’s parent company went to the hotel Thursday and told employees they were there to terminate service, the company said in a release.

The men said the hotel would have to make an immediate payment to keep the electricity on.

They provided a telephone number for employees to call. Someone at the number told the hotel employees to put $5,896.89 on a prepaid debit card to pay the bill.

Hotel employees did so and gave the card to the men posing as utility employees, according to a release. Kentucky Power did not name the hotel.

Kentucky Power and its parent company, American Electric Power, tell employees not to donate old uniforms in order to prevent them from being used improperly, said Allison D. Barker, spokeswoman for Kentucky Power.

Kentucky Power doesn’t know how the men got the logos, though Barker noted the insignia is visible online, raising the potential the men printed it off.

The utility notified police of the incident.

Kentucky Power released information on the theft Friday in order to increase awareness about the potential for scams.

The electric company will never demand immediate payment, insist that a customer load a prepaid debit or credit card to pay a bill or have a customer meet a company representative in a parking lot to make a payment, said Del Borden, a Kentucky Power official.

The company warned that scams involving utilities are common.

Thieves sometimes tell people they need new meters, but they have to make a payment, or offer a discount in return for signing up with auto-pay, which involves providing financial information.

Kentucky Power cited several ways people can protect themselves.

One important way is to never disclose credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers, or any other personal identification numbers, to anyone who contacts you in person, by phone or email.

Anyone with concerns about a potential scam can call the utility. For Kentucky Power and AEP, the number is 800-572-1113.

Kentucky Power has 168,000 customers in 20 Eastern Kentucky counties.