As the Temperature Drops, Utility Phone Scams Increase
Lately, you may have seen on your local news warnings about utility related phone scams. From the Pacific Northwest to the Tri-State area this is a common phone scam in the winter months.
How the Utility Phone Scam Works
Scammers claiming to be representatives working at your energy service provider will call and threaten to cut your electricity off if you don't pay up. If you live in an area that's susceptible to winter storms, you know first hand how terrible it can be to be left without electricity and heat in the middle of the winter. This fear causes many people to react quickly and follow the demands of the scammer.
Using caller ID spoofing sofware, scammers are changing the number that displays on your caller ID to display the name and phone number of your energy company. This makes these scammers hard to spot and very believable. However, there are several steps that you can take to protect yourself from the energy bill scam.
Step 1 - Be skeptical.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your energy company's billing department be skeptical. Energy companies will sometimes call, but they will never ask you to pay immediately by credit or prepaid debit card.
Never give personal financial information such as your credit card or bank account info. Sometimes phone scammers will have some personal information about you such as your full name and home address, even if they have this information you should not trust them.
Instead of giving your information ask the caller for their information including name and the company that they are calling from, then hang up.
Step 2 - Gather information and call your energy company directly.
Once you've gotten information from the caller and hung up, you should verify the information. Most energy companies have a 1-800 number that you can call up to check whether or not they are calling people in your area.
You can also look up the number that the caller used with a reverse phone lookup to see if there has been any reported scammer activity. If you can’t find any reported scam activity it’s still best to check directly with your energy company. CallerSmart's phonebook features free GetHuman data, which gives you the insider tips on how to connect with another person quickly when calling 1-800 numbers.
Step 3 - Report the scam.
After checking with your energy company and you find out that it was a scammer that called you, you should report it. Scams like this should be reported to your energy provider, local police, your state’s Attorney General, and the FTC.
Don't just report this scam to authorities make sure you let friends and family know about it too! The more people who know about this scam the less success these criminals will have out of conning people from their money. You can help warn others by downloading CallerSmart's free reverse phone book app for iPhone by leaving your feedback on numbers you suspect are involved in scams. If you don't have an iPhone you can still use our reverse phone number lookup service here on our website and leave your feedback.