Local News

Jul 1, 2014 1:09 PM by Sara Donchey

Scammers Pose as Electric Company to Steal Consumer Information, Money

CORPUS CHRISTI -- Air conditioning is a necessity in these hot summer months, and no one knows this better than scammers.

The Association of Electric Companies of Texas are warning consumers about a utility phone scam on the rise.

Scammers will pose as a utility company, call consumers and threaten to shut of their electricity unless they wire them money to pay for a late utility bill.

The Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi says the scams are elaborate and designed to trick people into handing over money, their personal information, or both.

Scammers will even mask their caller identification to make it appear as if they're calling from a utility company.

Experts say they also use technical terminology and prey on the most vulnerable consumers--the elderly or people who speak English as a second language.

Tracy Bracy of the Better Business Bureau says there are some signs to look for, though.

"Scammers usually ask to be wired money, and that's a big red flag because your utility company is never going to call and threaten you, and then ask you to wire money," Bracy said. "That's a really big sign that you're dealing with a scam."

Omar Lopez with AEP Texas says the best way to make sure you're not being conned is to verify who you're speaking with.

"Hang up with whoever is calling, call the electricity provider yourself, and find out the status of the account," Lopez said. "We certainly don't ever want you to give your personal information to anyone--not your social security number, or your bank account information, or a credit card number."

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