GREENSBORO, N.C. — All 50 states have some sort of law or agreement in place, that keeps utility companies from shutting off service during this COVID-19 epidemic.
Still, there's been a spike in folks reporting threatening calls from their power, water, or gas companies.
"They know what they're doing they're very good at it, they know how to push consumers buttons and they have all the tools they need to make it seem convincing," explains John Breyault of the National Consumers League.
The calls are coming from scammers and they’re very convincing. They use technology to make it look like it's your power, water, or gas company calling on your caller id.
They claim they are from your power, water, or gas company. They say you've missed a bill somehow, and unless you pay up right now they're shutting your utility off immediately.
Here is where it gets a little creepy. They know things about your personal and financial information, so it sounds real.
"Many of these scammers may have personal information about you that they got in a data breach, like for example Equifax. They use that personal info and tailor r the pitch to you specifically to convince you they are who they claim to be," adds Breyault.
You get upset and then they can ask you for money. They get you upset so you don’t recognize the next red flag.
The scam caller then asks you to pay the bill immediately by wiring money, buying a pre-paid debit card, or a gift card of some sort.
Think about it, have you ever paid a utility bill by wiring money or a gift card? Absolutely not. That is not how it works. It doesn't matter how convincing they are. If you see these red flags, it’s a scam.