Don't get left out in the cold -- watch for utility scammers

BBB warns of fake utility workers targeting homeowners and businesses

With the colder weather comes con artists impersonating utility workers, in person and over the phone. There have been reports in Washington, Idaho and Montana concerning scammers pretending to be Avista Utility workers demanding consumers and businesses pay for past due bills, according to Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving the Northwest.

These scammers tell their victim to pay with green dot (prepaid) Debit cards, making it impossible to regain the funds lost.

BBB recommends the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:

Investigate past due bills. Make sure the caller, letter or email is actually from the utility company. To double check, call the company using the phone number listed on their official website. Confirm where and how to pay the bill and ask how they send past due bills. All of this can be done without giving out account information over the phone.

Never wire money for a payment. Once the money is sent, it is gone forever. Instead, pay with credit or debit card so charges can be disputed if needed.

Don’t let them in. It’s not just cash scammers are after. Some fake utility workers pretend to visit homeowners for routine checks, but are actually scoping out the homes security so they can return later to burglarize it. It’s rare for a utility company to do a home visit. If one does show up at the door, ask for identification and look for a vehicle with a company logo on it.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a utility scam should contact their local law enforcement and report the incident to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.

Category: