Central Maine Power and its parent company, Avangrid, are warning customers to be wary of phone calls from people claiming to be company representatives after a wave of reports about scam calls.

CMP spokesperson Jon Breed said Tuesday the utility has received over 100 reports so far in 2023 that scammers are impersonating CMP employees and demanding payments by threatening to send crews to shut off their power – in some instances within 15 minutes.

The operation is part of what the Federal Trade Commission said in 2020 is a growing trend of scams targeted at utility company customers, who Breed said can be especially vulnerable to the threat of losing a basic need.

“Electricity is an important part of our lives. These scammers try to use fear to trick people into sending nonrefundable forms of payment,” Breed said.

Breed said the biggest red flags to look out for are scammers asking for an account number or the name of the person on the account. CMP and Avangrid subsidiaries will always go through verification steps, he said.

The scam caller might also insist a recent payment did not go through, a meter needs to be upgraded, or that an account is past due. The caller may demand payment with cash, a prepaid debit card or by providing personal account information over the phone.


Avangrid representatives were unable to specify whether they’ve been getting more reports of scams than in previous years. But CMP is one of multiple Avangrid subsidiaries across New England that is receiving a surge of scam reports from customers, according to Brian Harrell, Avangrid’s vice president and chief security officer.

“Over the last year, I think the national trend is to see more of this style of criminal activity. But it has been just recently within Avangrid and the energy sector at large where we have noticed a true uptick,” Harrell said.

In 2020, the FTC issued a consumer alert about a boost in utility scams amid “heightened economic anxiety” at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last three years, reports of business imposters surged from 157,000 to 374,000 – with over $660 million lost in 2022, according to FTC data. Business fraud is the most popular – and most successful – form of imposter scam in America.

Customers of Versant Power, another Maine utility, also have been reporting scam calls. Versant spokesperson Marissa Minor said that on Feb. 14 alone, Versant received over 24 reports of calls that threatened to discontinue customers’ service.

After discussions with national security and local law enforcement agencies last week, Harrell said, Avangrid and CMP decided to warn the public Monday about how to protect themselves from falling victim to these scams.

Avangrid spokesperson Sarah Warren said if there are any threats of turning off service, it’s an immediate indicator that a real representative from CMP is not on the other end of the phone.

“That a very good way to identify a scam,” Warren said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.