|April 17, 2014
Be aware of utility company scam
The Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice wants to alert you to a scam involving utility companies that is targeting mainly businesses. It works like this:
The person receiving the call will be told by the person on the phone, who claims to be from their utility company, that they’re about to cut off electricity services to their business. The caller ID may look like a legitimate local number, but more often than not this number is “spoofed.” Scammers can use computers/internet to make it look like they’re calling from one place, when they’re actually someplace else.
The caller will say, “I can stop this, but you need to pay here right, right now on the phone.” Sometimes, the scammers will ask people to use a GreenDot money card, Western Union wire transfer, or prepaid gift card. Scammers are using reloadable debit cards, gift cards, and sometimes even PayPal. These methods allow them to get your money in a way that’s extremely difficult to recover.
WHAT TO DO:
If you get a call, email, text, or even a visit from someone telling you to make a payment via GreenDot, PayPal, Western Union, or gift card, it’s most likely a scam. Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill to confirm you are current on payments.
Call your local police department, or the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, or visit us at https://doj.mt.gov/consumer/for-consumers/