If You Get This Call About Your Home, Contact Police Immediately
You will want to call the authorities right after you hang up.
Your utility bill is just one of the things on that never-ending list of monthly payments. It's a drag, but you got to make sure you're keeping the lights on, the refrigerator cold, and the AC running as the temperatures rise this summer. So, if you receive a call from your respective utility company, odds are you're going to answer it. But now, police are warning about one call that could actually end up doing more harm than good. Read on to find out what you'll want to report to the authorities immediately.
Police are keeping tabs on multiple suspicious phone calls.
Recently, police across the U.S. have issued several warnings about different scam calls, including one related to cryptocurrency. In this instance, people receive random calls from strangers who demand that they take money out of their bank account and put it into a Bitcoin ATM or buy a specific form of cryptocurrency, the Salem Police Department in New Hampshire warned. As part of another scam, criminals are bold enough to pretend to be the police themselves. Using jury duty as a ploy, the Albermarle County Sheriff's Office in Virginia warns that scammers will call and claim that they are a police officer and that you owe a fine for failing to appear for jury duty.
Both cons might be scary enough to make you take immediate action, but police advise pausing to consider whether the call is legitimate. And yet another scheme has surfaced, this time targeting an integral part of your life—the electricity in your home.
A new scam is targeting utility customers.
Police issued yet another warning, as scammers are now posing as utility company employees. In a June 21 Facebook post, the Chatham Borough Police Department in New Jersey posted a Suspicious Activity Warning about the scam, where criminals are targeting customers of FirstEnergy, an electric utility company.
These scammers call and say that your power will be disconnected unless payment is made on the spot, according to FirstEnergy's website. They often use caller ID spoofing software that makes it look like the call is actually coming from the energy company. They might even have convincing greetings and hold messages if you reach out to a call-back number they provide.
"We often make courtesy calls to remind customers about outstanding balances and send written notices of a possible disconnection, but we do NOT call or email to demand immediate payment to avoid a same-day shutoff," FirstEnergy said, per the Chatham Police warning.
Criminals will often demand payment in "unusual" forms.
Whereas you may be used to paying your utility bill online or via automatic payments, scammers will often ask to use "unusual payment methods," according to the warning. These include digital payment apps, cryptocurrencies, or money transfers.
If someone contacts you and asks for payment in this form, it should raise red flags. Police urge customers only to send payments using "established methods" when making sure that a utility bill is paid off.
You might not be targeted over the phone.
These criminals are not stopping at phone calls, they might even show up at your door. And while sometimes FirstEnergy does conduct courtesy calls to your home—offering you the opportunity to pay a bill in person before shutting off service—these representatives will have company-issued photo identification, Chatham police said.
If you have an outstanding balance, the employee would also explain how a payment can be made with the established methods, never requiring you to pay via a pre-paid money card.
If something feels wrong, it very well might be.
Regardless of how these criminals contact you, staying vigilant is key. Police and FirstEnergy ask you to hang up if you receive a suspected scam call, and close the door if something about a visitor feels off.
"If you have any doubts about the status of your account or the identify of a FirstEnergy employee, contact your electric company at the number listed on your bill or the company's website," the warning said. "Never call the number the scammer provides."
If you're targeted in one of these schemes, you should also contact both FirstEnergy and your local police department, according to Chatham police.
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