COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs Utilities sent notice this week to customers of a breach that resulted in the exposure of contact information for about 200,000 customers.
The email to current and former customers says customer names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses were accessed by what they call an "unauthorized" party on June 15.
The notice says the exposure did not include any sensitive financial data like social security or credit card numbers. They have not said who the person was but say the data was stored by a subcontractor, who has already implemented system enhancements to protect the data.
Customers can also expect an email soon from the utility about the exposure of the data.
According to Colorado Springs Utilities, this event is not considered a data breach as it does not include "the loss of sensitive, proprietary, or confidential information."
People impacted are warned to be on the watch for unsolicited contacts via phone calls, texts, or emails from people claiming to represent Colorado Springs Utilities.
"This is why we remind our customers that we do not call demanding information such as credit cards, payment or social security numbers," the utility says on a FAQ page set up for the event.
Jamie Fabos, General Manager of Public Affairs, said customers should simply hang up if they get a call from someone claiming to be from Colorado Springs Utilities.
"We ask that you hang up, then call the customer service center," she said. "We don't call people asking for sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers. So, please don't give out that information."
The name of the subcontractor is not being released to the public.
"We provide only the minimum set of information required for a contractor to complete their assigned duties and limits the usage of such information to only those functions allowed in the contract. All contracts which include the need for our organization to provide sensitive data to an external party are required to include specific security requirements like usage restrictions, encryption strength / usage, user account restrictions, requirements for third party attestation of security practices, data storage and destruction requirements, and more," the FAQ page explains.
News 5 asked Fabos whether the City of Colorado Springs or Colorado Springs Utilities would consider paying for identity theft protection services for the affected accounts.
"At this point because of the limited nature of that data that was accessed, we are not doing any kind of identity theft protection," Fabos said. "But certainly, if that were to change, then we would alert our customers."
Information provided by Colorado Springs Utilities on staying safe from scammers:
Beware of Scams
Scammers are clever, persuasive professional criminals skilled at finding unique ways to get what they want from their victims. They call or show up at your door when you're busy or distracted, and the last thing you want is to have your service disrupted. If you are ever suspicious of a phone call or visitor, hang up or make the person wait outside and call us at (719) 448-4800 to confirm the call or visit.
6 Things We Don't Do
- Require customers to make payments with a credit card or a prepaid card
- Make outbound calls asking for credit card information.
- Call requesting payment for a meter replacement.
- Ask for your social security number on outbound calls.
- Collect payments in the field in the form of cash, check or money order. (Customers have the option to make a payment through KUBRA - online or over the phone - to keep services on.)
- Partner directly with any solar company.
- Disconnection Deception - Scammers call threatening disconnection of your utility service, demanding immediate payment by prepaid cards.
- Door Knocking Imposter - Door-to-door imposters pose as utility workers to gain entry or access into unsuspecting victims' homes.
- Solar Salespeople - An individual makes claims about your bills and even meter equipment while attempting to sell you a solar product.
- Power Restoration Charge - Scammers call offering to restore power more quickly for a fee in the aftermath of severe storms causing widespread power outages.
- Overpayment Tactic - Scammers call claiming you have overpaid your utility bill, and you need to provide personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
- Identification Attack - Rather than directing victims to call a 1-800 number, the scammers direct the caller to press 1 to collect more data in an effort to get personally identifiable information.
- Vacate Your Home - Scammers claim there is a need to replace equipment and you must leave your home for 72 hours.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Scammers
Register for My Account and manage your account online. If someone comes to your home or business, ask for identification. All employees carry photo identification with an I.D. number.
Do not provide your credit/debit card number, account number or any other personal information to any caller or visitor without knowing their true identity.
Call customer service at (719) 448-4800 or (800) 238-5434 for accurate information about your account or to identify one of our employees.
What to do if You Receive a Scam Call
If you receive a call from a number claiming to be from Colorado Springs Utilities asking for personal information, please take the following steps. DO NOT provide any personal information.
Take note of what action the caller (automated or in-person) is asking you to take AND the phone number from which the call appears to originate. Use this information to report the scam to the FTC (1-877-382-4357).
This step is important as the more complaints the FTC receives, the more likely the incident will be investigated. Colorado residents who believe they have been victims of a scam or want to report suspicious activity, can also file a fraud report with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
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