Anyone can be targeted for a utility scam – including the Chairman of the Public Service Commission!
That’s right, recently I was at home when my phone rang. My caller ID indicated the call was coming from Scott Depot, West Virginia. When I answered, the caller told me I was behind on my electric bill and unless I made payment over the phone the power company was going to terminate my service in 45 minutes!
I was so shocked and startled I actually questioned myself whether I could be delinquent on my bill. When I told the caller I was sure I had paid the bill he hung up on me. I then called the power company and was told my bill was current and I had been the intended victim of a scam they are seeing all too frequently in our area.
So let’s go over the basic steps to take to avoid being a victim.
Don’t ever give out your Social Security Number, birthdate, mother’s maiden name, credit card or bank account numbers, driver’s license number or any personal identifying information to an unsolicited caller.
If you have not had any prior notice of an outstanding bill and someone calls claiming to represent your utility company, says your bill is seriously past due and threatens to shut off your service if you don’t pay immediately, hang up. It’s a scam.
If someone asks for payment on a prepaid debit or gift card, hang up. It’s a scam.
If someone threatens you on the phone, hang up. If they come to your door and threaten you, don’t let them in. Lock the door and call the police.
These criminals are ruthless and, unfortunately, the practice is becoming all too common. Protect yourself. If you believe you have been the victim of a utility scam, immediately report it to the police and then contact your utility company.
Charlotte Lane is the chair of the West Virginia Public Service Commission.