Imagine this: Your phone rings, and the caller ID says it’s the utility company. They tell you that your bill hasn’t been paid, and if you don’t immediately send the money, your electricity, gas, or water will be shut off.
Here’s another one: the caller claims you’ve overpaid your utilities and needs your financial information to make a refund.
Or how about this one: someone appears at the door claiming that you have a gas leak or need new equipment, and asks to be paid up front.
Or maybe you’ve seen this: you get an email or text claiming there’s a service issue, and they need your personal or financial data to fix it.
If any of these happen to you, what should you do? First of all, don’t panic, because these are all scams. That person at the other end of the phone or standing on your porch does not have the ability to shut off your utilities. They’re simply after your money.
Utility scams are the most common type of scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission. These scammers target both individuals and small business owners, hoping to trick them into revealing personal or financial information. Don’t fall for it!
There are two major warning signs that something is a scam. First, your utility company will never call and threaten to shut off your power without prior notice. Second, they will never demand immediate payment through gift cards, wires, person to person payment services, or any other payment type, either over the phone or in person.
If you receive a call or visit like this, stay calm, don’t give out personal information, and report it to your local utilities company right away.
If you ever have a question about your utilities service or bill, look them up online or call the company directly and ask about your account.