By District Attorney Summer Stephan
Paying bills online is very common, but unfortunately even something as mundane as paying a utility bill can become a rollercoaster ride now that scammers frequently pose as utility companies. The scam involves a bad actor calling the victim and pretending to be the representative of a utility company and claiming to have encountered a problem with address information or payment method. Using this excuse, the scammer asks the victim for sensitive information that allows the scammer to open a fraudulent bank or credit account using the victim’s information. Additionally, the scammer will often ask the victim to buy gift cards or to wire money directly to them in order to pay a “late fee” or “overdue balance.”
Professional scammers are very good at pretending to be legitimate companies and encountering a mistake on a bill is not out of the ordinary, so it’s easy to fall prey to this scam. Keep these tips in mind to avoid getting swindled.
If you find yourself at the end of a utility scam, immediately call your utility company and financial institution in case your account is compromised. You can also contact your local non-emergency police line or report it to the Federal Trade Commission. These reports help the FTC and other law enforcement stop any future scams.
As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and the public. I hope these consumer and public safety tips have been helpful.