We want to make you aware of a phone-based scam that is making the rounds involving Central Maine Power.

Scammers representing the utility are calling customers, saying that their bills are past due and their electricity will be shut off in 30 minutes unless the balance is paid.

A co-worker here received one of these calls today (Oct. 29) and the caller had all of the necessary information, including the name and address on the account and said that unless a payment of over $340 was made in the next half-hour, the power would be disconnected.

A quick call to CMP confirmed this was a scam, and one that has been going around.

According to the company, CMP would never demand immediate payment from a customer to keep their service on.

The company had further information on how to detect scams on their website:

Customers should verify all information before making payments over the phone, and should recognize the red flags:

  • It doesn't add up. CMP doesn't call customers for payment if the account is in good standing.
  • Timing and urgency: If a customer falls behind on payments, CMP sends a letter and will call the customer before proceeding with disconnection. Additionally, CMP does not disconnect service on Friday, state holidays or during the weekend.
  • Demanding a specific form of payment: CMP accepts a variety payment types, including credit cards, bank transfers and more. If a caller insists on payment via a prepaid debit card  "especially a specific brand of prepaid card "it is a scam.

Here are steps customers can take to protect themselves:

  • Check account status. Create an online profile at the CMP website as a quick way to check account status or call CMP's customer service line (800.750.4000 for residential customers or 800.565.3181 for business customers). Do not use callback numbers provided by unsolicited callers. Customer representatives can verify account status and work with customers to resolve any issues.
  • The identity of any CMP employee can be verified by asking for their photo ID card (if in person) or their employee number, then contacting CMP at 800.750.4000 to verify their identity and the nature of their business. Our employees are happy to comply with an identity verification request.
  • Protect personal information. Customers should never share personal or financial information, including outstanding balances, without first verifying whom they're speaking with.
  • Collect evidence. Customers who suspect a scam are urged to get the name and number from caller ID, if available, write down any call-back number provided, and take notes on what the caller said. This will help investigators work with authorities to shut down the scam.
  • Report it. Customers should report the scam to the utility, local law enforcement, and the Federal Trade Commission ( http://www.ftc.gov/). This will help authorities shut down scams and prosecute the scammers.
  • Enroll in CMP's AutoPay service. The amount due is automatically deducted from a bank account each month, so customers will have no concerns about an outstanding balance. More information on this payment option is at Autopay