Pull the plug on utility scams

Utility scams heat up as the temperatures rise (and when they fall). In fact, the Federal Trade Commission says that utility impostors top the list of reported scams. The AARP Fraud Watch Networks offers the following information on what to be on the lookout for.

How It Works
• Someone claiming to be from your utility company shows up at your home unannounced, claiming they need to inspect or repair equipment.
• You receive a communication (phone, email, text) saying your account is past due and you must pay immediately, or they will cut off your power.
• You get a call claiming that you overpaid your utility bill, and they ask for your banking account information to provide a refund.

What You Should Know
• None of these tactics represent the way utility companies do business — they won’t show up unannounced, they won’t threaten to cut off your power without first mailing you notices if an account is past due, and they won’t handle any overbilling this way.
• Utility scammers tend to target older adults and people who are not native English speakers.
• Requests for payment by way of purchasing a gift card and sharing the information off the back is sure-fire proof that it is a scam.

What You Should Do
• If you get a communication from your utility provider that is out of the ordinary, look on your last statement for the phone number and call to inquire if there is an issue with your account.
• Notify neighbors that a scammer is making the rounds — they tend to hit certain geographic areas at the same time.
• Alert your utility company if a scammer is impersonating them.

Get Help
To report a scam or for help if you or a loved one has fallen victim, contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360