Stop Utility Scammers
Utility scammers work year-round, but the Better Business Bureau says they’re most active in the peak winter and summer months when people rely on heat or air conditioning. Here’s how to spot the imposters:
- Never pay over the phone in response to a call, especially when you’re threatened with a service disconnection if you don’t pay immediately. Your utility will never demand payment over the phone. If you’re getting pressured, hang up and call the customer service number on your utility bill — this will ensure you’re speaking to a real utility employee.
- Before shutting off your electricity, natural gas or water, your utility will send you one or more disconnection notices in the mail, and give you several bill payment options, typically online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
- Utilities don’t accept gift cards and they never require customers to buy prepaid debit cards, like Green Dot orMoneyPak, to pay their bill. Instructions to pay by prepaid debit or wire transfer is a red flag.
- Don’t trust caller ID, even if it shows the name of your utility company. Scammers know how to “spoof” caller ID to make it read whatever they want. It’s another sneaky part of the scam that fools a lot of people.
- Report the interaction to the FCC if you think a scammer has contacted you. www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
- Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider.
- Delete all suspicious emails that demand or require immediate action to verify personal information.
- For more information, go to UtilitiesUnited.org