Ameren IL warns businesses of new scams

Utility scam awareness week

MARION, IL (KFVS) - Most of us get telemarketing calls and scam calls fairly often, and it’s safe to say most of us aren’t too happy when we do.

Right now, there are new scams being done where people pretend to be with Ameren Illinois and threaten to shut off someone’s power if they don’t pay up.

To start putting an end to this, Ameren officials have started a utility scams awareness week.

Today in Marion, about 15 employees went door to door to local small businesses to tell them about the new scams, and what to do.

Owner of M Boutique, Meredith Ashe, said she received one of these scam calls several months ago.

“My mom was watching the store and she called me in a panic saying, ‘Meredith, they’re coming to turn off your electric right now. You gotta pay,’” Ashe said.

She said the caller told her there was a truck 10 minutes away coming to turn off her power if she didn’t pay multiple utility bills for her multiple units.

“One was around $500 and the other was over $800,” Ashe said. "And I’ve never had a bill that high.”

According to Tina Gibbs from Ameren Illinois, that’s not how they do business. Which is why the company is getting out there to tell their customers what red flags to look out for with these calls.

“The majority of the customers are your small businesses,” Gibbs said. "Your mom and pop type of customers, that’s who they prey on.”

Ashe said she thinks Ameren going this extra mile will give a lot of small business owners like her peace of mind.

“I think that a lot of people are smart enough to know better,” she said. "But there is that one time if they say the right thing it’s gonna make you believe it.”

Gibbs said the best thing to do if you get a suspicious call like this is to not give the caller any personal information and contact Ameren directly to see if there are any problems with your account.

She also said Ameren is not going to shut off your power so suddenly like these scammers are threatening.

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