Nov. 29. 2017
Scammers are calling and they’re pretending to be with the electric or natural gas company. They threaten to disconnect service unless you pay a past due bill immediately. They typically want payment by wire transfer, debit or credit card or prepaid debit card – but some ask for gift cards, like iTunes cards.
Fraud.org, the website run by the National Consumers League (NCL), reports a “significant spike” in complaints about utility imposter scams in recent months.
“The pitch can be very convincing,” said NCL Vice President John Breyault. “When even savvy business people can be tricked, it shows that no one is safe.”
These phone bandits are very aggressive and put a lot of pressure on people to pay right away. Tens of thousands of people across the country are falling for the pitch. The average victim loses hundreds of dollars this way. Businesses have been taken for thousands of dollars.
Remember: Before shutting off service a utility will send you one or more disconnection notices in the mail. They will never call and demand payment on the spot. And they never ask for a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card.
Get a call like this – hang up! And if you want to make sure this was a scam, call your utility and use the number listed on the last bill.