AG Nessel warns of utility company impersonation scams

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Attorney General Dana Nessel issued an alert today for Utility Scam Awareness Day that advises consumers to be on high alert for people impersonating utility company employees.

We know there’s a direct correlation between entering the winter months and a rise in utility imposter scams. Don’t fall for scammers who contact you with a demand for money or personal information in exchange for keeping your service going. If you have any doubt about a caller, or suspect the call may be fraudulent, contact your utility using the phone number on your most recent bill and ask to speak to a customer service representative. You should also file a complaint with my office.” 

Attorney General Dana Nessel

This week has been quite a busy one in regards to consumer alerts.

Earlier this week, Michigan State Police issued an advisory, warning of spoofed phone numbers.

Yesterday, Nessel reinstated consumer alerts regarding fake landlord scams.

According to Nessel, the following are signs of a potential imposter scam:

  • Threat to disconnect utility or of action against the individual:
    • Scammers may aggressively tell a customer their utility bill is past due, and service will be disconnected within an hour if a payment is not made. 
    • If the scammer is impersonating law enforcement, the threat would likely be an arrest. 
  • Request for immediate payment:
    • Scammers may instruct the person to purchase a prepaid card, cryptocurrency, or to send funds via a mobile app to make a bill payment or pay off a debt. 
    • If the scammer is impersonating law enforcement, the payment would be proposed as the only way to avoid arrest. 

There are ways to protect yourself from these scammers, including:

  • Customers shouldn’t purchase a prepaid card to avoid service interruption or pay a debt supposedly owed.
    • Utility companies will not specify how customers should pay bills, typically offering a variety of ways to pay a bill.  
  • Customers should be aware if threatened with immediate service interruption.
    • Past due accounts receive multiple advanced notices, typically by mail and in their regular monthly bill.
    • Utilities will never notify of a disconnection in one hour or less. 
  • If suspecting someone is trying to scam them, customers should hang up, delete the email or shut the door.
    • The utility company should be contacted immediately at the number on the most recent monthly bill or on the utility’s official website, not the phone number the scammer provides.
    • If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 9-1-1. 
  • If you’ve mistakenly provided bank account or credit card information to someone you suspect might have been an impostor, call your bank or credit card company immediately. 

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