KENNETT, MO (KFVS) - A single phone call could leave you out more than a thousand dollars, all while you think you're paying your bills.
A Kennett nursing home went through this but knew the signs of a phone scam so they called City Light, Gas and Water in Kennett.
The scammers have called several businesses over the past year, saying that they had a technician on the way to turn off the power unless the over due bill was paid immediately using a gift card such as a 'Moneypak.' The nursing home, who reported the call, said that they noticed a different accent and knew the CLGW's policy and that they wouldn't be calling.
"They usually target our small businesses because they're the one who needs their utilities turned on the most to generate business," said Jill Rickman, the administrative Services Coordinator at the CLGW.
But because the nursing home recognized the scam and alerted the CLGW was able to call the scammers and get more information on what they wanted. The call went like this:
"Disconnection department this is Jackson,how may I help you," said the scammer over the phone.
"Yea I got a phone call that said my electricity is gonna be disconnected," said CLGW employee Royce Allen.
"Yes sir? Were you wanting to make a payment," replied the scammer.
The call lasted more than 10 minutes which ended with the scammer telling Allen where to purchase a Greendot Moneypak. The full conversation is posted on Facebook:
"Yea.. it was a fun time," said Rickman. "We were able to get that one in and get it all the way through where they thought we were able to get the money cards."
The CLGW said they make these calls so that they can better pick up on what their customers might be hearing from scammers and can send out warning accordingly. Some things they say could keep you safe include not use money paks to pay your bills, these are much like cash and are not traceable.
Also never give out your social security number over the phone, CLGW said they only ask for that when you first set up your account and that must be done in person. Also, check the caller ID, sometimes these are out of state numbers which would not be your Utility company. But even if they are local it's not always real.
"It's easy for them to change their phone number to look like your phone number and to call and demand a payment," said Rickman. "But our recommendation is to know your local business."
Knowing how they charge and what their policies are is the best way to keep you safe. If you ever are concerned that it is a scam you should hang up and call your department immediately and ask if there is something you need to take care of.