A friend of ours had an embarrassing experience with would-be scammers not long ago.

Her parents, who were visiting her home, answered a phone call in which a scammer claiming to be PPL threatened to cut off her power immediately if she didn’t pay. Her parents became concerned and called her at work, asking why she hadn’t told them she was in financial trouble.

She wasn’t. In fact, she’d paid her bill online, and her account was in good standing. But the phone call caused her — and her parents — more than a little worry.

At PPL Electric Utilities, we’re trying to stop scammers who steal our name. We don’t want them to steal from you.

Door-to-door solicitors claim to represent us. (They don’t.) High-pressure phone callers say PPL will cut off power in an hour if you don’t pay. (We won’t.)  We’ve seen reports of phishing emails that pretend to come from PPL, as well.

We’d like all these people to keep our name out of their mouths, and our security team works with police to pursue them. But, until they’re caught, the best thing we can do is share information on how to spot scammers. This advice can help you spot swindlers who might pretend to come from other companies you trust, too.

So share these signs of scams with anyone you know who can use them. We don’t want anyone to be taken advantage of.

Door-to-door energy marketing

In Pennsylvania, you have the right to buy your energy supply from a competitive supplier, rather than have PPL Electric Utilities supply it. You may be able to save money by paying a lower rate than the one we charge. (No matter who you buy your energy from, it will be delivered safely and reliably over our network.)

You should know, though, that we don’t endorse any one supplier over another. And those door-to-door solicitors who promote energy suppliers do not represent PPL. In fact, they’re required to specifically tell you that they’re not working for us.

Our advice? Don’t be afraid to buy your energy supply from another company – but the best place to start is our shopping website, pplelectric.com/shopping. You can also go to the state Public Utility Commission’s site at PAPowerSwitch.com to compare our current price, called the “price to compare,” to those of other suppliers.

If you want to listen to door-to-door salesmen and see what they have to offer, you can. But we recommend that you not sign anything before checking PAPowerSwitch.com, where you may find a better offer. And don’t provide your PPL account number to anyone.

Phone scams

Phone callers who impersonate PPL give themselves away by doing two things we don’t.

They claim they’ll cut off power immediately if they don’t get paid. And, they pressure you to pay them by buying prepaid cards. (In real life, we’ll give plenty of notice when there’s a possible risk of shutoff, and we don’t pressure anyone to use specific payment methods.)

You can always check your account status by logging on at pplelectric.com or calling us at 1-800-DIAL-PPL. If you get a suspicious or threatening call that claims to come from another company – like a utility or a bank – do the same thing: Hang up and contact the company directly using a trusted method, like the phone number on your monthly statement, or a website you know belongs to that company.

“Phishing” emails

A “phishing” email is a message that tries to get you to share personal information, such as account numbers. Some phishing messages can look a lot like the emails sent by real companies you know and trust.

Here are ways to keep yourself off the hook: First, hover your mouse over any link in the message. Read the URL that pops up, and see where the link really goes. Does it go to a site you trust, like pplelectric.com? Or does it go someplace you’ve never seen before?

Also, if the message says there’s an urgent problem with your account, don’t click. Instead, contact the company directly through a trustworthy channel to check your account status. They’ll let you know if you really have anything to worry about.