By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
As summer approaches and the temperatures outside continue to rise, so does the possibility that scammers impersonating your utility company are going to show up at your doorstep or call over the phone.
The first type of utility scam generally occurs when severe weather has caused a power outage. Someone claiming to be from your local utility company shows up at your door claiming that you need to make a cash payment in order to have your service restored. The scammer may claim the power outage has affected the company in addition to customers, and that they cannot currently process check or card payments. Rest assured, this is not how legitimate companies will operate. Don’t pay cash to anyone on the spot without any prior notice from your utility company, even if the person has a uniform or an ID that looks real. Even if the individual seems legitimate, call your utility company to confirm they are authorized to visit your home before making any payment.
The other type of utility scam occurs at any time and involves someone impersonating a utility company calling over the phone and threatening to shut off your electricity, water or other utilities unless you pay them immediately. Usually they want you to wire money or give them a prepaid card number. This makes it very difficult or nearly impossible to get the money back once it is sent. The scammers often target small businesses, where they know a business owner would rather pay than risk having their utilities turned off and have to close the business. As always when it comes to folks you do not recognize calling you and asking for money, your best solution is to hang up. If you have questions about the status of your utility bill payments, call the company directly at the phone number printed on your bill.
More information on how to protect yourself from these and other scams is available on our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or by calling our consumer protection hotline at (800) 432-2310.