Lights out for fake utility bill collectors

The caller sounds convincing: If you don’t pay your utility bills immediately, your gas, electricity or water will be shut off. They ask you to pay using a specific — and unusual — method.

Be warned: The call probably is a trick to steal your money.

The Federal Trade Commission, state and local consumer protection agencies, and utility companies have gotten a slew of complaints from consumers about utility bill scams. Here are a few signs you may be dealing with a scammer:

  • You get a call or an email claiming your services will be cut off unless you call a number or click on a link and give your account information. Most utility companies don’t ask you to send your account information by email.
  • Someone calls demanding you wire the money or use a prepaid or reloadable debit or gift card to pay your bill. Legitimate companies don’t demand you use those methods to pay.  
  • The caller tells you to call a phone number and give your credit, debit or prepaid card number. But if you do that, the scammer can access the money from your credit, debit or prepaid card, and you can’t trace where your money went. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So if you get a call from someone threatening to shut off your utility service:

  • Make sure you’re dealing with your utility company before you pay any amount. Call the company using a number you’ve looked up. Or go to their website to determine the status of your account. Confirm where and how to pay your bill. Don’t give out your account information on the phone unless you place or expect the call.
  • Never wire money to someone you don’t know — regardless of the situation. Once you wire money, you cannot get it back.
  • Do not click links or call numbers that appear in unexpected emails or texts — especially those asking for your account information. If you click on a link, your computer could become infected with malware, including viruses that can steal your information and ruin your computer.
  • If you are falling behind on your utility bill, contact the utility company and see if they can work with you to come up with a payment plan and a way to keep your service on. 
  • If you think a fake utility bill collector or any other scammer has contacted you, file a complaint with the FTC and your state consumer protection agency.

Comments

how does the fake collector know that you need to pay the bill or be shut off......

Our power company sends reps to door to door to ask people about their electric bill, we believe its racist, it's always a white male, and on one occurrence the rep made a statement claiming we were going to want to move out running with the new electric system. He made no sense except demonstrate hate, racism, as racism causes more and more minorities to fear in Arizona; the passive hostilities does not stop in the schools, colleges, hospitals and workplaces and media;media sics neighbor against neighbor same way teachers sic students on each other, now in our home we are not free from fear. Furthermore, when churches became blood thirsty for money more then reaching out to their communities in gathering to sing religious songs and pray and listen to the preacher preach-that too another freedom which has been taken away and only for those very special whites.
We live scared, always there are racist looking to cause havoc knocking on our door to asking who, what, where, and if you let them go as far police which not only do police rough you mistakenly but they now take a copies of your credit cards, and also under threat of arrest force your social social security number out you which later is use against you even with no charges, now you become their new mouse to chase when and how they please.
All while some retired police scare frame or scare people out business, and counterfeit massive amounts of movies and music by simply using recording studio like Tall Cat recording studios and countless other studios.

WOW, Suspicious you, you have taken this bblog to an all time low. Racism and hate from the Electric company because a white male shows up and asks what you think about your electric bill? In Arizona,(my home state BTW) whites make up 73% of the population. 20% of the pop. speaks Spanish and only about 4% of the state is of black race according to the 2010 fed census. odds are, you will meet a white person that speaks spanish before you bump into a black man in Arizona. are all whites racist or are all your problems due to whites? if you believe that is the way you see things, if i were you, i would take the guys advice and move from the state. advice he probably gave due to the changes coming to your area that are going to allow power rates to increase by as much as 13% if Sun Vally Electric isn't allowed to expand and update due to legislation that the tree huggers are pushing through the state house of reps. to save some desert mosquito. could that be it? Or am i just another person hating on Mosquitoes because they fly and are skinny? am i just a bigot?

He's referring to Hispanics, spespecifically the non-white variety. Arizona has a big problem with them, or at least some parts of Arizona. It is the home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio after all, one of the most known racists in the entire country.

DeSTaNN, file a complaint with the FTC ? caq

I filed a complaint with the FTC about Paciic Ambulance co. for threatening to turn my case over to a collection agency. I guess I will file it again. It's been awhile and I haven't heard anything.

A business withdrew unauthorized funds from my checking account. The amount was significant to cause repercussions financially. I am in the process of rectifying this dastardly situation.

We have been receiving phone calls from different phone numbers with varied american names with Indian accents claiming to be IRS agent and threatening with arrest warrants. Latest phone number is 202-864-1181

Thursday, March 20, 2014 David.Barnes@tigta.treas.gov

TIGTA Warns of “Largest Ever” Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) today issued a warning to taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to defraud them.

“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. George noted that TIGTA has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.

“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” he said. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals,” George said, adding, “Do not become a victim.”

Inspector General George urged taxpayers to heed warnings about the sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, noting that the scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every State in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license. See Report at: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Phone-Scam

The truth is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. And the IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” he said.

The callers who commit this fraud often:

*
Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
*
Know the last four digits of the victim's Social Security Number.
*
Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
*
Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
*
Call a second time claiming to be the policy or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

* If you owe federal taxes, or think you may owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
* If you don't owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
* You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov

TIGTA and the IRS encourage taxpayers to be alert for phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, texting or any social media. You should forward scam e-mails to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

Read more about tax scams on the genuine IRS website at www.irs.gov

Please do file complain with FTC, IRS, FBI and local law enforcement. Most likely they will not do anything. But they will know the freqency of occurance of this crime. These callers spoof the caller id, impersonate themselves as IRS or other agency officials and victimize innocent people into sending them real money via green dot money pak or reloadit or similar cash like cards.
Not everybody falls for their scam but all are harrassed by these scammers. Law Enforcement does not do anything and so these scammers keep scamming thousands of people.
Their phone calls and the moneypak and other debit cards are very much traceable but FTC/FBI and local law enforcement people take the easy way out. Do nothing and just put some alerts on this ftc website as if 300 million people everyday have nothing else to do but browse the ftc website.
Victims gets scared into thinking they will be arrested even though they have committed no crime. And they will load these moneypak cards at walmarts or other stores with real cash and give the card numbers over phone to these fraudsters thinking they are sending money to IRS.
The money pak card gets transfered to some debit card and they use the debit card to cash at ATM or stores. Visa, MasterCard and American express processes the debit card transactions and can trace which ATM and which Store cash registers these cards were used to buy merchandise or get cash. There even video footages captured at ATM and cash registers. If Law Enforcement wanted to go after these crooks they can indeed catch them , put them in jail and stop this crime.
But they just want consumers to think the money is not traceable and it is gone. And just be careful. So it keeps happening. Please file your complaints and demand action.

very interesting

201-850-8078 scam. phone call from Robert claiming to be PSE&G. stating they will come and shut off power within hr. asked him for name, number and address. he didn't know PSE&G info. so i asked for his address so i can send the cops to his location and hung up on me. called local police. they just said to come in and file a report. like the cops have better things to do then catch scammers.

fake PSE&G from 201-850-8078 demanded money or they would shut off my power. I called them back and told them i reported them to the police. they asked me why? lol

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