As the hustle and bustle of school returns and families begin in their own unique routines, scam artists are using an old playbook to identify ways to trick Arkansans by claiming they have not paid their utility bill. The scam involves Caller ID spoofing to make the name or phone number of the utility company display on the phone’s screen. The scam artists will then claim the consumer must pay immediately over the phone because a representative is on their way to disconnect their services. Be cautious of unsolicited calls and consider hanging up and finding the company’s phone number from an independent source and calling them to confirm any outstanding balance.
“Remember, you should never be forced to make an immediate payment for utilities over the phone and or give away your personal information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:
- Add the utility payment due date on a calendar when the bill is received.
- Drop off the payment at the utility office or an authorized payment location.
- Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.
- Consider participating in an automated bank account draft system, if it is offered.
- Mail the payment to the company directly.
The scammer may also request that the recipient purchase gift cards or prepaid debit cards to pay off the amount owed. The scammer will ask for the code on the purchased card, which gives them complete access to money on the card. In most cases, once the prepaid card money is depleted, it cannot be recovered. Remember, utilities will not require you to pay by gift card or prepaid debit card – scammers will.
Arkansans should notify the company if they have been contacted by one of these scammers. If Arkansans have turned over money to the scammer, file a complaint with the Attorney General.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.