Scams involving utility bills for electric, water or gas services have long been popular with scammers. Pacific Gas & Electric in California is reporting scams targeting utility customers are at an all-time high and this scam is being perpetrated all around the country as well. With summer comes increased use of air conditioning which, in turn, brings the utility scammers.
These scams come in different variations. The most common example is where the scammer posing as your utility company calls and threatens to turn off your power if you fail to make an immediate payment by credit card or gift card. In another utility scam, potential victims receive telephone calls purportedly from their utility company informing them of a special company promotion for which they are eligible. They just need to provide some personal information.
You can never be sure when you get an email or a telephone call if it is really from a legitimate source. Email addresses can be hacked to appear legitimate and even if you have Caller ID, a scammer can use a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear that the call is from a legitimate caller. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Never provide personal or financial information to anyone in response to a telephone call, text message or email until you have independently confirmed that the communication was legitimate. In the case of a utility bill, merely call the number on the back of your bill and you will be able to confirm whether or not the communication was legitimate. Also, never click on links unless you have confirmed that they are legitimate. The risk is too great. It is also important to remember that no legitimate utility company will require you to immediately pay your bill over the phone with a gift card.
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