December 18, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today warned Missourians of scammers posing as representatives from their energy utility demanding past due payments. The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline has received reports of phone calls claiming to be from a power company and demanding payment to prevent immediate service disconnection.
"With the arrival of cold weather, we've seen a recent uptick in reports of energy utility scams from throughout the state," said Koster. "We want consumers to know that they should never pay unless they are absolutely sure of who is on the other end of the call."
Koster said scammers will pressure the target of the scam by telling them they are within minutes of their service being disconnected if they don’t pay a past due balance immediately. The scammer will ask for the person's credit card number or banking information in order to stop the service interruption. These scammers are targeting small businesses as well as residential customers. Koster said recent reports have involved scammers calling people, but could also involve in-person visits to the door or phony bills sent by mail.
The Attorney General's Office recommends that consumers hang-up and call their power utility directly using a phone number listed on their bill or the company's website to check their current account status.
Koster said consumers should never provide personal or banking information on a phone call they did not initiate. Demands for payment exclusively by wire or pre-paid card are strong signs of a scam.
Consumers who receive a call or visit from someone posing as a representative from a utility demanding immediate payment should notify their utility company and file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division online or by phone at 1-800-392-8222. Consumers should include in their filed complaint any notices received or caller ID numbers for the incoming call.