ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of North Georgia are recognizing Nov. 16 as Utility Scam Awareness Day by warning consumers and businesses to watch out for scammers posing as utility company representatives in an attempt to steal your money.
“Criminals will often use scare tactics in an attempt to pressure consumers into turning over their hard-earned money before they have a chance to think things through or verify the supposed claims,” said Carr. “Unfortunately, since utilities are such an essential service, these tactics are often successful. Knowledge is key, and we encourage Georgians to take advantage of the many resources offered by our Consumer Protection Division so you can help to protect yourself and your business from potential scams.”
These fraudsters will claim that your account is past due and threaten to shut off your service unless you pay them immediately – typically via a prepaid card, gift card or wire transfer. They may even become argumentative if you do not immediately do what they ask.
“Con artists often employ high-pressure tactics – including hard sell, scare tactics, and urgency ploys – to trick targets into making a quick decision resulting in the loss of your money, personal information, and account details,” said Simone Williams, media and public relations lead for the BBB. “The BBB is encouraging Georgians to report utility-imposter scams to BBB Scam Trackerat bbb.org/scamtracker, which will help people in their communities avoid a scam like this one and protect themselves from being taken advantage of.”
According to the BBB 2021 Scam Tracker Risk Report, victims of utility scams lose an average of $500.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the BBB offer the following tips to help Georgians avoid utility scams all year-round:
- Utility companies won’t demand banking information by email or phone, and they won’t force you to pay by phone as your only option.
- Utility providers will never come to your home or business to collect a payment.
- Even if the caller insists you have a past due bill or your services will be shut off, never give banking information over the phone unless you place the call to a number you know is legitimate.
- Do not trust caller ID alone to verify the identity of a caller. Sometimes scammers use spoofing technology to make the caller ID appear with a valid company name and/or phone number. To lend credibility to the scheme, the scammers may even duplicate the interactive voice response system of the actual utility company so that if a consumer calls the phony number back, it will sound like they’ve reached their legitimate utility provider.
- If you get a call like this – even if it seems legitimate – hang up and call the phone number listed on your utility bill or on the utility company’s website to verify the status of your account. Do the same thing if you receive a robocall of this nature.
- If the caller asks that you pay by gift card, cash reload card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency, it’s a scam. Legitimate companies do not demand payment via these methods.