Scammers know severe weather may shut off your electricity, heat, and water, and they might pose as your utility company.
They may call to say that they’re sorry your power went out and offer a reimbursement, but first they need your bank account information. They might email you to say that there’s an error in their system, and you have to give them personal information so they can turn your gas on again.
In addition, they may even threaten to leave your utilities shut off if you don’t send them money immediately. Don’t be fooled.
If you get one of these calls, texts, or emails, Emily Wu, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, offers these suggestions:
- Thank the caller and hang up if you get a call. Never call a number left in a voicemail, text, or email. Instead, if you’re worried, contact the utility company directly using the number on your bill or on the company’s website. Verify whether the message came from them.
- Never give banking information over the phone if you get a call out of the blue about your utility bill and the caller claims you have to pay a past due bill or your services will be shut off. To pay your bill over the phone, always place the call to a number you know is legitimate.
- Be aware utility companies won’t demand payment information by email, text, or phone. And they won’t force you to pay by phone as your only option.
- Don’t do it if the caller tells you to pay by gift card, cash reload card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency. It’s a scam.
Report any scams you experience at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.