The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today cautioned consumers of a phone scam involving their energy bills and reminded consumers of utility shut-off procedures.

In this most recent scam, businesses in parts of Pennsylvania have been targeted by callers claiming to be from their electric company. The caller will contact the establishment and tell the person who answers the phone that their power will be shut off within the hour if they don't arrange to pay off their bills over the phone.

If someone claims to be a utility representative over the phone or visits in person and wishes to enter your home, consumers should call the utility company first to verify that they are in fact speaking to a person from the utility.

"We want to ensure that consumers are educated and protected," said Commission Chairman Robert F. Powelson. "Consumers also should become familiar with their rights when it comes to utility shut-off procedures."

In addition to any written notice, utilities must make an attempt at personal contact with a small-business owner at least three days prior to termination. As a reminder, the following shut-off procedures apply to residential owners:

Before your service is shut off, your utility company will take the following steps:

Ÿ Send you a 10-Day Notice. Once you get the notice, the utility company has up to 60 days to shut off your service.

Ÿ Attempt to contact you three days prior to your shut-off date.

Ÿ During winter months (Dec. 1 through March 31), if the utility company cannot reach you at the time of termination, they will leave a 48-hour notice at your residence.

Your utility company can shut off your service if you fail to do the following:

Ÿ Pay your bill

Ÿ Follow through on payment arrangements

Ÿ Pay a deposit, if required

Ÿ Allow the company access to its equipment

The above procedures do not apply to small-business customers, however, utilities are asked to make an attempt at personal contact with a small-business owner at least three days prior to termination.