Pressel: Local residents should be wary of threats to disconnect utilities

Posted by: Josh DeFonce  | Wednesday, July 15, 2020 10:00 am

STATEHOUSE (July 15, 2020) – State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) is helping warn local residents of utility scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic that is making the rounds.

NIPSCO reports customers in the area are receiving a rising number of scam calls demanding they pay a certain amount of money or their services will be disconnected. Pressel said NIPSCO is not making these calls and urges residents to hang-up the phone immediately if they're contacted by someone demanding payment.

"During a difficult time for many, it is sad the lengths people will go to take advantage of others," Pressel said. "If you receive a call like this, please hang-up and contact NIPSCO immediately to verify the call and protect yourself from these scams."

NIPSCO voluntarily suspended shutoffs for non-payment and waived late fees in mid-March because of the financial impact on customers associated with the pandemic. Pressel said under Gov. Eric Holcomb's executive order, utility disconnects are prohibited until Aug. 14, 2020.

If customers think they are being contacted by a scammer, they should hang up the phone, or delete the email or text immediately. Then they should call the utility provider using the number on their bill. The provider can look at their account and tell them the correct information. NIPSCO's customer care team can be reached at 1-800-464-7726.

Pressel said if any Hoosier believes they have been the victim of a coronavirus-related scam, they should contact law enforcement immediately. Also file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division online at www.in.gov/attorneygeneral.

Hoosiers struggling to cover their utility costs due to a loss of income over the last several months can apply for a one-time, $350 benefit for utility costs through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This program will not cover all their utility bills and does not excuse individuals of obligations to pay utility bills. To learn more or apply before the July 31 deadline, visit www.in.gov/ihcda.

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State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) represents House District 20,
which includes portions of LaPorte and Starke counties.
Click
 here for a high-resolution photo.