In this article I’m going to share exactly how this scam works, how to protect yourself from it, and what you should do if you suspect that you have been hit by this scam.
How The Electric Company Phone Scam Works
This scam works by scammers calling you and posing your utility provider and claiming that you have not stayed up to date with with payments and that they are going to shut your power off if you don’t pay them immediately.
This is where most people fail to question things and get nervous and hand over their financial details. You can probably guess what happens next, you hand over your credit card details and these scammers take you for everything you have.
What’s worse is these scammers have taken things a step further, now they are not only scamming consumers but it seems that they are now targeting businesses as well.
For example, they may call a restaurant and inform them that they have been late on their payments and that they will be shutting the power off immediately. So just as in the consumer situation they hand over their credit card details.
Now the question becomes what can you do to protect yourself from this scam?
How To Protect Yourself
First off, if someone calls you claiming to be from your utility provider telling you they are going to shut your power off hang up. This is not the normal procedure a utility provider will use.
Every state has it’s own disconnect procedure however most will send you a written notice via your bill and give you a certain amount of time before they actually shut off your power.
For example, in the state of Ohio you will receive a 14 day notice which will come with your regular monthly bill. The point is no electric company will call you without any prior written notice and just shut off your power.
You can read more about Ohio’s PUC rules here. If you want to check out your states PUC disconnect rules just do a search in Google for Your State PUC Electric Disconnect Rights.
Second, once you’ve hung up on the scammers find the phone number for your actual utility provider and call them. Inform them of the situation and they will be able to get a heads up on the scammers and possibly warn others of the scammers as well.
Third and finally, do not under any circumstances give out any financial information. This is not the standard way utility companies collect payments. If you normally pay with your credit card or bank draft your utility provider would already have this info available, so their is no need to tell them again.
What To Do If You Have Just Been Hit By This Scam
First, contact your credit card provider or bank and tell them what has happen and tell them to suspend all transaction with your account. If you gave them your credit card details close the account immediately and have a new card issued.
Second, inform your local authorities and let them know what has been going on. The authorities may not be able to catch the scammer but they can at least worn other of this potentially costly scam.
Finally, you may want to consider putting a freeze on your credit for the time being as well if you’ve given out your private financial information. Scammers may be able to use your information to open new accounts in your name and by freezing your credit this can prevent any further damage from happening.
To learn more about how to freeze your credit check out this article here.
Have You Been Hit By This Scam
Well now that you’ve been informed about this scam have you been called by them, or worse did you give your financial info to them. Share your thoughts and comments below.