Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Watch out for utility scams

Release Date: Aug 04, 2021

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

Reliable electricity is a must in Kansas during the summer. This year is no exception with excessive heat warnings almost a daily fixture. As much as the heat can be worrisome, so are scammers who are calling on residents with more frequency, demanding immediate payment and threatening to shut off power.

Utility companies across the state have reported an increase in customer calls to their offices letting them know that imposters are out in force. Scammers are calling residents threatening to shut off services, often within days or mere hours, if they do not receive payment. The scammer insists that they must receive payment and have access to your financial information to keep the lights on, or more importantly, the air conditioner running. In some cases, the scammer insists that a check has bounced and asks that the customer purchase a pre-paid credit card to make a payment.

We have heard these complaints, as well. As always, when it comes to folks you do not recognize calling you and asking for money, your best solution is to hang up. If you have questions about the status of your utility bill payments, call the company directly at the phone number printed on your bill.

Furthermore, scammers may claim the COVID-19 crisis has affected the company in addition to customers, and that they cannot currently process check or card payment. Rest assured, this is not how legitimate companies will operate. Don’t pay cash to anyone on the spot without any prior notice from your utility company, even if the person has a uniform or an ID that looks real. Even if the individual seems legitimate, call your utility company to confirm they are authorized to visit your home.

You can help stop such scams by alerting your friends, neighbors and family so they can protect themselves. Remember, if you receive a call from a scammer just hang up. Better yet, if you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer the phone.

More information on how to protect yourself from these and other scams is available on our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or by calling our consumer protection hotline at (800) 432-2310.

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