Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power have joined Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) to recognize the fourth annual Utility Scam Awareness Day Nov. 20.

Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of the weeklong National Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers who call customers demanding immediate bill payment. This year’s theme is “It Happened to Me, Don’t Let it Happen to You.”

“Education is the best way to help stop these scams,” said Frank Frederickson, Minnesota Power vice president of Customer Experience. “We urge customers who think they are dealing with a suspicious call to hang up immediately and call Minnesota Power directly at 800-228-4966 to verify their account status and to report this illegal activity. Minnesota Power doesn’t want any customer to fall victim to a scam and encourages customers to never provide personal information on any call that appears suspicious.”

Minnesota Power does place courtesy calls for various business reasons and leaves the 800-228- 4966 number for a return call. These usually are recorded calls and never demand immediate payment of an overdue bill. If you believe you are a victim of a scam, you also should notify the proper authorities such as local police or the state attorney general’s office.

UUAS, a consortium of more than 140 U.S. and Canadian electric, water and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.

“While our Utilities United Against Scams consortium has made significant progress during our four years of work to educate and protect customers, the criminals targeting our communities continuously adapt and occasionally fool even the most sophisticated customers. While it is heartbreaking to hear from individuals and businesses who have lost money to scammers, we appreciate their willingness to share their experiences so that others might not fall victim,” said Jared Lawrence, vice president of customer operations at Duke Energy and UUAS founder and executive committee chair.

The most common scams are calls, texts or emails to utility customers asking for immediate payment to avoid service disconnection. Utilities will never send a single notification to a customer within one hour of a service interruption, and they never will ask their customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card or any form of cryptocurrency.

Visit Minnesota Power’s scam alert webpage for more information and tips on how customers can protect themselves from impostor utility scams, and follow Minnesota Power on Facebook and Twitter for the latest scam information. SWL&P customers also can follow SWL&P on Facebook and Twitter and visit SWL&P’s scam alert webpage. The Federal Trade Commission’s website also provides additional information about protecting personal information and other information regarding impostor scams.