You are pretty sure you paid that bill but the caller is adamant – your account is overdue and if you don’t pay immediately, your power (or your gas) is going to be shut off! That’s the last thing you need, right? That’s exactly how the scammers want you to think!
Scammers will time their calls during peak seasons – the middle of winter or when it’s really hot outside which means from May to at least October in Florida.
A fake utility worker might also seek payment up front to repair or replace a meter or other device, or solicit personal information In the name of signing you up for some government program that will reduce your utility bills.
Other cons include calling and saying you “overpaid” and they need your bank account information or credit card number to make a “refund.” Or, showing up and saying they are there to do an “energy audit” when in fact, they are going to try to get your personal information to commit identity theft.
Warning Signs you should be aware of:
- Any unscheduled or unsolicited call or visit from someone claiming to represent your power company or water utility –
- Threats to cut off your service unless an overdue bill or maintenance cost is paid immediately.
- A demand for payment by wire transfer, bitcoin or prepaid gift cards. (NOTE: Any demand for payment using a gift card is automatically a SCAM and there are no exceptions to this rule.)
- Any payment showing on a credit card or bank statements for utility accounts you did not open.
- Do call the utility at the customer service number noted on your bill or off the utility’s website – do not use any number provided to you by the caller.
- Do know that the utilities will not ask for your personal or financial information over the phone and they do not cut off your service without considerable advance notice.
- Do ask questions of anyone calling you or coming to your door on supposed utility business such as their employee identification number, or the date and the amount of your most recent payment.
- Do notify the utility you have been approached by an imposter and warn your friends and neighbors.
- Don’t provide personal or financial information to any caller or visitor you don’t know.
- Don’t let a supposed utility employee in your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem – even then, check their identification.
- Don’t click on any links in a utility-related email or text message unless you are certain it is from your utility.
Need assistance? Seniors vs. Crime is here to help you.
- Sumter Office – Open Mon-Thurs.; 10am-2pm @ 352-689-4600 X 4606
- Wildwood Office – Open Tue – Thur.; 10am – 1pm @ 352-753-0727
- Marion Office – Open Tuesday; 10am-2pm @ 352-753-7775
- Fruitland Park Office – Open Wednesday; 10am-2pm @ 352-674-1882
File an online complaint at www.seniorsvscrime.com