Beware: NFDA recently heard from a member who, unfortunately, fell victim to a scam in which she was threatened with her business’ power being shut off.
In this scam, which has been around for several years, a telephone caller poses as an electric utility company employee. The caller threatens to shut off the customer’s power unless an immediate payment is made. The customer is told they should make their payment by purchasing a pre-paid debit card, such as a Green Dot/MoneyPak card, or using a money transfer service like Money Gram or Western Union.
Be aware that most utility companies will not call you on the phone in order to inform you that your power will be shut off; they prefer to communicate by mail. Don’t be fooled by the caller ID: scammers can spoof their phone number into looking like it’s from your state, even if they’re in another part of the country or abroad.
If the utility company does call to let you know your account is past due, they will explain how a payment can be made using established payment options.
If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately. If you would like to verify your account status, always call your power company’s customer service department using the numbers listed on their website or billing statement.
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, please contact your local police department or your state attorney general’s office.
See also: Scam Alert – Be Aware of Merchandise Fraud