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Security & privacy

‘We’re shutting off your service’: Frightening utility scam red flags

Problems with your electricity or gas supply can often result in a call-out to your utility company. It’s an inconvenience, but luckily afterward, you should be connected again. For most of us, we hardly ever have to call a utility company.

But when they call you, it will usually be to inform you that some maintenance will be done on supply lines. On other occasions, the company might make contact to see if you are happy with the service. Tap or click here to find out why crooks are showing up at seniors’ doors.

Imagine your shock when you have had minimal dealings or a pleasant experience with your utility provider, only to receive a threatening call from them. Beware, as it is more than likely a scam in progress.

Here’s the backstory

If you know that your bills are up to date for your gas, electricity or water supply, your utility company shouldn’t be threatening to cut you off. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned consumers that a scam is currently in progress, using that exact ruse.

Calling random customers, the scammer pretends to be from a local utility company. They will claim that your utility bill is outstanding and will cut you off if you don’t pay them immediately.

Their preferred payment method is an untraceable currency like gift cards, wire services, or even through cryptocurrency. If you know that your account has been fully paid up, this is a scammer taking a chance.

What you can do about it

This type of scam has gone viral and the FTC suggests these ways to avoid them:

  • Hang up and call the utility company yourself. Call the company using the number on your bill or the utility company’s website, even if the person who contacted you left a call-back number. Oftentimes, those call-back numbers are fake. If the message came by text, don’t respond and do the same. If your bill says you owe anything, pay it as you normally would, not as the caller says.
  • Never wire money or pay with a reloadable card, gift card, or cryptocurrency to anyone who demands it. Only scammers will require one of those kinds of payment. Your utility company won’t ask you to pay that way. Once you send the money, you probably won’t get it back.

If you think you’ve been caught up in one of these scams, report it:

It would help if you also let your family and friends know that these scams are running wild. That way, they’ll see it coming if a scammer happens to contact them. Just share this article with them, so they have all the facts.

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