It can be a shocking experience.
Someone claiming to be from your utility company calls and says your bill is overdue … and tells you that if you don’t pay it in the next few hours your service will be cut.
Then they demand you pay the bill with a prepaid card.
Don’t fall for it, because it’s a scam. And you could be out hundreds of dollars if you do what they say.
This nationwide scam has targeted both consumers and business owners, and the people behind the hoaxes are even able to make the caller ID on your phone look like it’s actually coming from your utility company.
If you get a call like this, it’s important not to panic. Your power or water won’t be cut because the callers have no way to do that.
Hang up your phone and follow these steps:
- Don’t run out to get a prepaid card. Once you give that card information to a scammer your money is gone … and you won’t get it back.
- Call your utility company directly, using the phone number printed on your most recent bill or the one listed on that company’s official website. Tell them what happened and ask them to check your account.
- Report the attempted scam to your utility company, local law enforcement, your state Attorney General’s Office, and the Federal Trade Commission. When calling, use an official number that you find on your utility bill or on the Internet. Don't use the number the payment demand came from.
It’s also important to know that:
- Utility companies won’t call to threaten you like this.
- They won’t demand a particular type of payment.
- If your payment really is late, you will be sent a reminder bill.
- Customers who really are behind on their bill will be sent multiple notices before any service is disconnected.
Remember, with a little knowledge, you have the power to shut these scammers down.