How to Properly Recognize and Respond to Utility Scams
Utility scams are defined as fraudulent acts where a perpetrator calls, emails, or arrives unannounced at a utility customer’s house in an attempt to take money or sell unnecessary energy accessories through misrepresentation. For numerous reasons, utility scams are on the rise across the country. While water, electric, and gas utilities can’t necessarily stop these scams from happening, it may be beneficial to become familiar with the details surrounding the potential scenarios in order to warn customers of what to look out for and how to respond.
Due to technology, there are many ways in which a scammer can contact a utility’s customer and many different angles they can take. That’s why the first step in reacting to a potential utility scam is recognizing the fact that you are being scammed. If someone is targeted, they should be aware of the following warning signs:
- An unscheduled or unsolicited call or visit from someone claiming to represent your power or water company
- Threats to cut off service unless an overdue bill or maintenance cost is paid immediately
- A demand for payment by wire transfer, cryptocurrency, gift card, or cash-reload card
- Payments on credit card or bank statements for utility accounts you did not open
Once a person knows they are most likely a victim to a utility scam, they may not know the appropriate action to take next. Therefore, if a utility customer comes across any of the abovementioned warning signs, they are encouraged to take any or all of the following responses:
- Don’t provide any personal info
- Ask for an ID or to see the person’s credentials
- Call your utility company to confirm the situation and inform them
- Tell your friends and loved ones about the scam so they can protect themselves
While a utility can’t avoid being impersonated, they can take the effort to properly communicate with customers on the warning signs of a utility scam and the appropriate way(s) in which to react to them. As a manufacturer for the water and gas industry, we see it as our responsibility to not only take care of our customer – the boss – but also the customer’s customer as well. After all, your boss is also our boss. Together, we can help prevent utility scams from gaining traction!