Northeast Times

Anyone ask to see PECO bill?

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North­east De­tect­ives are con­tinu­ing to look in­to two re­ports of a man who iden­ti­fies him­self as a PECO En­ergy em­ploy­ee try­ing to get per­son­al in­form­a­tion from Somer­ton res­id­ents. So far, there have been no ar­rests.

Capt. Joseph Zaffino, com­mand­er of the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict, in early Decem­ber said the young black man was well-dressed and well-spoken and was go­ing around the neigh­bor­hood, knock­ing on doors, ask­ing to see res­id­ent’ elec­tric bills.

A Wissi­nom­ing wo­man told the North­east Times last week that a man an­swer­ing that de­scrip­tion came to her door, too, but he didn’t tell her he was a PECO em­ploy­ee. In­stead, he said he worked for a com­pet­ing power com­pany and said he could show her hid­den charges on her elec­tric bill. The wo­man said she didn’t re­call the name of the com­pany the man said he rep­res­en­ted.

Rich Si­mon, the 7th dis­trict’s com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer, said last week there have been no new re­ports of the man knock­ing on doors in the 7th.

PECO spokes­man Ben Arm­strong said some of the util­ity’s com­pet­it­ors do send reps door-to-door. They ask to see res­id­ents’ PECO bills in at­tempts to drum up cus­tom­ers. Arm­strong said PECO wouldn’t send any­body out to so­li­cit busi­ness and that a PECO em­ploy­ee would already have ac­cess to a res­id­ent’s bill, know the res­id­ent’s ac­count num­ber and even the last pay­ment made.

“We have no need to ask for a bill. We have the bill,” he said.

PECO em­ploy­ees who need to vis­it a res­id­ence, un­less it is an emer­gency, would have con­tac­ted the res­id­ent by phone or my let­ter be­fore the vis­it, he said.

Zaffino warned res­id­ents not to con­front the man, and in­stead, call 911. Arm­strong said a PECO work­er’s iden­tity can be con­firmed by call­ing 1-800-494-4000.

A crim­in­al pre­tend­ing to be a util­ity work­er is not a new dodge.

In the past few years, North­east res­id­ents have been robbed and some­times as­saul­ted by men who claim to work for the Phil­adelphia Gas Works or Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment and need im­me­di­ate ac­cess to their vic­tims’ homes.  Some­times, work­ing in teams, one man dis­tracts a res­id­ent or gets the res­id­ent to es­cort him to the base­ment while an­oth­er quietly enters and be­gins tak­ing money and valu­ables.

Of­ten, older res­id­ents are tar­geted, po­lice have said. ••

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You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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