BBB Tip: Utility Imposter Scam

  
     
Scammers impersonating workers from the water, electric, or gas company may call or show up at your door threatening to cut off of services unless you pay immediately.

electricity metersIn this con, scammers impersonate water, electric, and gas company representatives. They frequently threaten residents and business owners with deactivation of service... unless they pay up immediately. This scam is most common in the winter and summer months when people are most likely to need their heat or air conditioning.

How the Scam Works:  

Utility company imposters will typically reach you with a telephone call or knock on your door claiming to be a representative from the local water, electric, or gas company. In the most common scenario, the scammer informs you that payment is overdue and the utility will be shut off if you don’t pay up immediately.

Scammers use a variety of other tricks to prey on utility customers. A “representative” may appear at your door in a plausible work uniform claiming that the electric meter is not working properly and must be immediately replaced— at your expense. In a particularly alarming form of this con, the scammer may gain access to your home to perform “repairs” or an “energy audit” with the intent of stealing your valuables. These cons may also involve promises of energy discounts with the aim of taking your money, personal information, or possibly the account details needed to switch you to another utility provider without your consent (an illegal practice known as “slamming”).

Tips to Spot This Scam: 

  • Prepaid debit cards and wire transfers are a red flag. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card.  
  • Don't cave to pressure to pay immediately. If you feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative. 

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.

Last Reviewed: March 7, 2017