By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) is cautioning its members to not be fooled by an impersonator who has called businesses in Durango claiming to be from LPEA’s billing department and attempting to fraudulently secure credit card numbers.
“The first time we heard about this was Christmas Eve,” said Steve Gregg, LPEA manager of operations. “The caller apparently indicates that the business’ LPEA account is past due, and if payment is not made immediately by credit card, then the electricity would be disconnected. LPEA doesn’t do business that way.”
In compliance with federal regulations, LPEA’s customer service representatives do not accept credit card payments over the phone. If a member calls in to pay by credit card, the member is directed to a secure, automated voice system. Also, when an account is past due, LPEA customers receive a series of notices and are given adequate time to settle their bills before any disconnect would take place. Further, LPEA would not disconnect members on a holiday or a weekend.
Last week LPEA received notices that China Cafe, Tacos Nayarit and Mutu’s Italian Kitchen in Durango had been called by the attempted scammer. Season’s called LPEA more recently.
“These are the four we know of,” said Gregg. “Chances are there have been many more attempts.”
If in doubt about a billing department phone call from LPEA, members are asked to politely end the conversation and call the LPEA Customer Service Department, 247-5786, to clarify any billing questions. If the call is blatantly fraudulent, members should also call local authorities.