Scammers Target Utility Ratepayers
February 10, 2016
Some Arkansas homeowners and small business owners are receiving phone calls threatening to shut off utility services due to an unpaid bill, but these calls are likely another way for scam artists to take money from hard-working Arkansans.
Utility companies across the State are reporting con artists posing as utility company employees and reaching out to consumers over the phone. These scammers attempt to convince unsuspecting Arkansans that the company has not received payment, and if the consumer does not pay the outstanding balance right away, the utility will be shut off.
Of course the person on the other end of the phone is not associated with any utility company, and the consumer will lose his or her money if they fall victim by wiring money or submitting a prepaid debit card.
Many will even take advantage of evolving technology and use spoofing to make a caller ID display the name of the utility company the scam artist is claiming to represent. Be cautious of unsolicited calls and consider hanging up and finding the company’s phone number from an independent source and calling them to confirm any outstanding balance.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans about this scam.
“It is outrageous how these scammers are always looking for new ways to trick consumers out of their hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Think twice before deciding to turn over personal or financial information to anyone over the phone, especially if the call is unsolicited. All consumers should be skeptical if the caller requests immediate payment through nontraditional channels, like prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:
- Add your utility payment due date on your calendar when you receive the bill.
- Drop off the payment at the utility office or an authorized payment location.
- Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.
- Consider participating in an automated draft system, if it is offered.
- Mail the payment to the company directly.
Some utility companies are making adjustments to how they conduct business because of this scam and are no longer accepting payments during courtesy calls to avoid confusion.
If you have been contacted by one of these scammers, notify the utility company. If you fall victim to one of these phone calls, file a complaint with the Attorney General.