Criminals targetting prepaid electricity users in South Africa – what to look out for

 ·28 Jun 2023

The City of Cape Town is warning residents of two electricity scams that are on the rise.

According to Beverley van Reenen, a member of the city’s energy committee, the first scam involves residents being offered cheaper electricity.

Van Reenen said that the electricity ‘sold’ does not work on the city’s meters, and anyone using the service will soon find that out.

“Everyone loves a deal, especially in these tough economic times, but remember, if the price of the electricity units seems too good to be true, it very likely is a scam,” she said.

The second scam involves a person posing as a city official and entering one’s property under the false pretences of checking a person’s electricity meter.

Van Reenen said that a senior citizen reported to the city that someone had visited her home, claiming they needed to enter the property to scan her prepaid meter so she could get a rebate on her electricity.

“The city urges residents to be aware of scammers who are posing as city officials or contractors to gain access to their homes. Once given access to residents’ homes, the scammers steal small personal items like jewellery and cash. In most cases, the elderly are targeted,” said Van Reenen.

The city said that its Electricity Generation and Distribution Department would make an appointment with residents before visiting their homes.

Municipal workers and contractors must carry a work order number specific to that dwelling and a legitimate city-issued identification card, Van Reenen said.

“Residents should please ask to check the work order number and the identification card before allowing anyone onto their property and to verify whether the card is legitimate,” she said.

The identification card must display:

  • The City logo
  • The name and surname of the staff member or mandated contractor
  • Must contain an embedded photo of the staff member or mandated contractor

The city stated that suspicious behaviour must be reported to law enforcement agencies or the City’s Fraud Hotline on 0800 1100 77 or to the South African Police Service (SAPS).

To best protect oneself from these scams, the city advises the following:

  • Only buy legitimate electricity units at the correct price per unit
  • You may only qualify for pensioner support if you have applied by filling in a form
  • Always verify the work order number when an official visits your home
  • Check the official’s city-issued identification card
  • The ID card must display the City logo, the name and surname of the staff member or mandated contractor, and must contain an embedded photo of the staff member or mandated contractor
  • If unsure, call the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089
  • Report suspicious behaviour to the City’s law enforcement agencies or to the SAPS

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