Better Business Bureau issues warning about utility company scams

Published: November 16, 2020 4:32 PM EST
Updated: November 16, 2020 4:52 PM EST

If you get a knock at your door from someone who was dressed as a representative from a utility company, you’d probably open up. They have one request – pay your bill or lose power.

But don’t do it, says the Better Business Bureau, it’s probably a scam.

Of course, no one wants to lose power in the summer, winter, or ever. Scammers are preying on your fear of losing power to get you to pay up.

It’s known as the “utility scam” and the BBB and some power companies are reminding people that this is occurring right here in Southwest Florida as a part of “Utility Scam Awareness Week.”

Bryan Oglesby is with the BBB of West Florida. “Scammers imposter, they spoof and pretend to be your local utility company, calling you claiming that you have not paid your bill, use high-pressure tactics getting you to act now,” Oglesby said.

For them “act now” means getting you to buy gift cards to settle your bill. The scammers say if you refuse to do so, your power will be turned off.

These scams can target you not only at your door but through your phone as well. Scammers have researched you, gathered your information and address. They have set up the caller ID to make it look like it’s from the power company, down to the hold menu being accurate.

Not only have they done the research, but it’s also an expensive scam. The Better Busines Bureau says the average victim loses more than $500 from the “utility scam.”

As soon as threats are made, they tell you to buy a gift card, use your debit card or wire money, please know that it is a scam.

Call the customer service line for your utility company, to protect yourself. Make sure you’re the one looking up the number, don’t take it from the scammer.

Make sure you don’t let someone into your home unless you scheduled an appointment. Never give out your personal information.

Call law enforcement once threats are made.

Crooks don’t just say they’re from the power company, they could also mention the water or gas company.