Scammers are now using utility bills to try to dupe customers.
Scammers reportedly are making calls to customers posing as representatives from companies like ConEd, Duke Energy, Georgia Power, Consumers Energy, or a bogus utility company called General Electric, among others. They’ll threaten to shut off power or service if customers don’t pay immediately. They’ll offer an “energy assistance” or payment plan and ask for the customer’s payment information.
“Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to defraud consumers, and we’ve seen triple-digit growth in utility company scams in the past year,” Jan Volzke, vice president of Reputation Data at Hiya, told Forbes.com. “While many consumers now know to be wary of calls claiming to be from the IRS or offering a free cruise that seems too good to be true, the latest threat comes disguised in the form of the utility companies that we trust to provide our basic services, like gas and electricity.”
Some warning signs to watch for: Representatives that demand customers pay by prepaid debit card or by a wire transfer (utility companies accept check or credit card and will generally direct customers to one of their payment locations). Also, don’t let anyone inside your home claiming to be a utility company representative unless you have a scheduled appointment or have reported an issue. When in doubt, hang up the phone and call the customer service number for your utility company to make sure you are speaking with a legit representative.
Source: “Scam Alert: How to Avoid Utility Fraud,” Forbes.com (March 19, 2017)