Remember, a scammer can’t take your money or your personal information unless you give it to them. Use the tips below to protect yourself from utility scams.
Hang up immediately on suspicious callers
A utility will contact you in a routine manner. Don’t let scammers convince you to pay with a different method. Any variation should be viewed with suspicion. If you are uncomfortable in any way, hang up the phone and call the utility directly.
Protect your information
Never disclose anything that will give the scammer access to your financial or personal information. You should aggressively guard your social security number, debit or credit card numbers, utility account numbers, passwords and date of birth. Also, review your utility bills monthly to spot unauthorized charges.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to verify anyone calling your home. Ask for their employee identification number, or the date and amount of your most recent payment. If you can’t obtain the information, hang up and contact your utility directly for verification. Inform them that you suspect you’ve been contacted by a scammer.
Utilities typically don’t show up at a residence or business without an appointment. If this happens, contact your utility to verify the presence of the employee before you open the door. Even if you have a scheduled appointment, verify their information by calling your utility.
Directly pay the utility company
Utilities will never call you to ask for cash or request that you purchase a prepaid credit card to make a payment on your bill. Don’t let outsiders convince you to do otherwise. Pay your utility company directly by going to their website or calling the number listed on your utility bill. Do not use a call-back number provided by an unknown caller.
Scammers use high pressure tactics to force you to make quick or rash decisions. Stay calm and refuse to be rushed. If you’re concerned about a threat of alleged disconnection, check your most recent bill, call the utility and confirm the status of your account. Your utility will never disconnect your service unless they have previously informed you about the possibility.
Delete suspicious emails
If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on links, open attachments, or respond. If you haven’t signed up for email notification, delete the email and call the utility company directly.
Periodically contact your utility to find out if they know of any scams that are occurring in your area, or check to see if there’s new information on their websites or social media about scams. Scammers are inventing new schemes all the time and it’s important to stay informed.
Look out for neighbours
Let your neighbors know about scams, especially your elderly neighbors. Let the community know that a scammer is either calling or visiting homes. Keep tabs on neighbors’ homes and ask that they do the same for you.