Sophisticated Utilities Scam Ripping Off Veterans
August 1, 2018
A new, highly sophisticated scam is targeting veterans across the country. Many reports suggests the scammers are making millions by tricking veterans into thinking they are speaking directly to a utility company representative.
The scam is making rounds around the country, and veterans appear to be the main target.
The scammers claim to be your utility company calling to inform you of a past due amount on your utility bill and then threaten to turn off your power , immediately if you don't pay up. To create urgency, the scammers go so far as to tell you a technician is on his way to your house to turn off your power.
The scammers are informing veterans they either missed a payment or didn’t pay enough on their last bill.
The scammers are using a telephonic system to make it appear as if they are calling you from your local utility company. Using this “ghosting” technique, the scammers mimic local utility company numbers, but, are off by a number or two.
One veteran reported, “The scammers are very good. I was completely convinced it was a representative from my electric company.”
To prevent your power or gas from being turned off, scammers direct veterans not to pay with a credit card, debit card, cash or check, but to use a prepaid credit card right away. The scammers claim any other form of payment would take too long and the veteran would risk having their utilities turned off. And, if the utilities were turned off, the veteran would have to pay a huge fine, the cost of the current bill, and a large reconnect fee to have utilities turned back on. In some cases, tripling what the regular bill would have been.
It’s been reported that the scammers are so convincing that they’ve learned how to mimic everything a utility company might do, right down to the music they play when you're put on hold.
A few things to keep in mind.
- A utility company would never ask you to pay your bill with a prepaid credit card.
- Most utility companies will give you a few notices before they turn off your power.
- If you get a call from a utility company representative, call them back direct before making any payment and have someone repeat to you what you were called about.
- Pay very close attention to the telephone number being used, it’s always off by a number or two.