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BBB: Don’t get burned by utility scams

Posted at 10:19 AM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 13:32:56-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — During this summer of record heat, the Better Business Bureau is alerting residents to an ongoing utility scam, where callers impersonate utility companies using fear tactics to collect money.

In this con, scammers will use a telephone call or knock on the door, claiming to be a representative from the local water, electric, or gas company. They frequently threaten residents and business owners with deactivation of service if they do not pay up immediately. This scam is most common when temperatures are highest and people need their air conditioning most.

A Laredo man lost over $1,400 this month to a caller impersonating his energy company. The scammer demanded several rounds of payments through wire transfers, and the victim complied. BBB reached out to that energy company to confirm this was a scam.
To keep from falling victim to this dishonest practice, remember to:

Resist Payment Pressure. Scammers will demand immediate payment and may try to intimidate you into giving them your personal and banking information. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card.

Call Customer Service. If you feel pressured for immediate action, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative. Never give your personal or banking information to an unverified or unsolicited caller.

Guard Your Home. Never allow anyone into your house unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification before considering whether you will let them enter.

To report a scam, go to www.bbb.org/scamtracker.