What are Utilities Scams:
Utilities Scams involve a scammer claiming to represent an employee of a utilities provider (ex: Electricity provider, internet provider, water services, municipal services), and demands payment otherwise the client's service of that utility will be shut off immediately. This scam commonly targets business as shutting off any service can drastically impact business operations.
How Utilities Scams Operate:
Fraudsters contact people and conceal their phone numbers (this is called call spoofing) so that their number appears to be that of a major utilities provider. Scammers generally pick a 1-800 number (such as 1-855) so their phone number looks to be legitimate.
Upon connecting with a person on the phone they identify them as representing this utilities provider and threaten instant disconnection if payment is not paid immediately.
- Victims are then instructed to transfer an amount to the utilities provider via Bitcoin, gift cards or E-transfer
- Upon completing this transfer victims are usually given more reason to send the scammer (ex: the payment failed, they sent to the wrong account, they were too slow in paying)
- This repeats until the victim realizes they were the victim of a scam
How to Protect Yourself From Utilities Scams:
- If called by a utilities provider, hang up and call the phone number on your bill or the companies website to ensure you are connected with an actual agent.
- Know that utilities providers do not accept Bitcoin, or gift cards
- Review your financial statements before making any decisions
- If you are the employee of a business, pass this off to your manager, the business owner or whomever pays utilities bills at your company.
If you Believe you are Facing a Utilities Scam:
- Hang up the phone
- Call the proper phone number of that utilities provider and explain what occurred
- Double check your financial statements to ensure you are not behind on any payments
If you are a Victim of a Scam:
See our guide on what to do if you are the victim of a scam / fraud.
More Information Regarding Utilities Scams: