Utility Imposter Scammers Ready as Temperatures Drop
South Carolina utilities have joined with South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) and the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) for Utility Scam Awareness Week (November 15-19, 2021) to warn members about utility imposter scams as they turn on their heat for the winter.
Utility imposter scams can happen in-person or over the phone and come in a lot of shapes and sizes. Members have reported seeing scammers dressed like a representative of a utility company, going door-to-door and demanding payment in prepaid cards or else power would be shut off. The scammer may call and claim the member needs a new meter or they are late on their payments. Whatever form the scam takes, the red flags are the same. The top red flags of a utility imposter scam are:
- Asking for payment in prepaid debit, gift card, money transfer, payment app or crypto currency.
- Using scare tactics or threatening you into paying ASAP.
- Calling and asking you to verify personal information. If you receive a cold-call from anyone asking to verify private info like your account numbers/balances, Social Security number, date of birth, etc, hang up immediately.
You should also be wary of their caller ID’s as scammers will “spoof” the number they are calling from, causing your phone to display a false caller ID. Often, the scammer will “spoof” a local number, perhaps even using the utility’s standard customer service number.
If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a caller, hang up immediately. If you suspect or experience a scam, notify your local law enforcement agency. To report a scam or for more information on defending against scams visit consumer.sc.gov and click the Identity Theft Unit tab.