Cut the Power on Utility Scams This Summer

Posted on 06/18/24

You can always expect hot temperatures in Florida – but what if someone told you to deal with them without power or air conditioning? That’s enough to cause even the strongest of Floridians to break a sweat!

This year alone, we have Florida power companies trying to raise your monthly rates, and now scammers are posing as utility companies to steal your money and information. And as one South Florida resident recently found, these utility scammers can be very convincing, which is why over twenty thousand Americans reported losing money to utility scams just last year (2023).

Here are some examples of utility scams happening around the state that will teach you the signs to “keep cool” and avoid the scammers this summer:

Central Florida:

Tampa Electric sent a warning to consumers in March about a suspicious and “convincing letter requesting personal information.” The letter contained the Tampa Electric logo and requested customers’ personal information to sign up for a so-called “no-cost solar” program…but it wasn’t really from the company!

Around this same time, Tampa-area residents also reported seeing deceptive Facebook ads for plug-in devices promising customers big savings on their electric bills. Investigative reporters revealed that these devices don’t really save you money – in fact, they may actually cost customers more money in the end.

North Florida:

Last year, the City of Tallahassee Police Department was alerted to several reports from residents who received calls originally believed to be from the city’s utility service department, where the caller knew information about the customer’s upcoming bills and account. The scammers asked the residents to pay their utility bill over the phone using a debit card or gift card as payment.

But, how did these scammers know the victims’ account information? They were using a publicly accessible tool online to look up average utility costs. Remember, if any communication asks you to use a gift card as payment, that is a sure sign of a potential scam.

South Florida:

Scammers sent one West Palm Beach resident a letter (claiming to be from Florida Power & Light) following the recent death of her father. The letter indicated that they were informed of her father’s passing and, since the electric account was in his name, she would need to update the account by calling thea number provided in the letter. Because the phone call and letter were so convincing, the scammer successfully stole her money and personal information. She bravely shared her story on AARP’s The Perfect Scam podcast last month because, in her own words: “… I do think it’s important that people hear [this] and find out what’s happening. You know, you’ve got to protect yourself…”

Also in South Florida, the City of Homestead warned residents in March 2024 about scammers posing as Homestead Public Services (HPS) employees who were calling customers about a supposedly “past due” utility payments. Customers’ caller ID’s showed the call coming from HPS Customer Service, and the caller instructed customers to make immediate payment at a local Walmart store with a credit card, prepaid debit card, or money order.


The Florida Attorney General’s Office also recently released a new scam prevention resource to address solar energy scams, following the Office’s filing of civil actions against three different solar companies. Per Attorney General Moody, “… bad actors may use the enticement of big savings [on utilities] to secure large down payments with no intention of ever completing the solar installation process.”

Additional Scam Tactics

· Utility scammers don’t always pose as your service provider. Sometimes they lie about being a third-party contractor hired by your provider for a repair, inspection, or energy audit.

· Besides demanding money for “bill payments,” utility scammers are also known to ask for additional payment for repairs, bogus fees, or to provide priority status for power restoration.

· Some scammers say they want to “save you money by offering to sign you up for a utility rate reduction program or to reimburse your bank account for a supposed overpayment.
If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam. Approaching all forms of communication (e.g., phone call, email, text, letter, in-person) with a healthy amount of skepticism and staying vigilant with your personal and financial information are important ways to protect yourself from fraud.

For more information on utility scams, check out our printable one-pager and visit to learn about other resources and tips for protecting Floridians from fraud.

This story is provided by AARP Florida. Visit the AARP Florida page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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