BELLEVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Illinois American Water along with more than 100 utility companies are taking a stand against scams on National Utility Scam Awareness Week, Nov. 13-17.
The campaign is to bring to light the many water, electric and natural gas impostors.
Scammers use phone calls, go online or meet in person to try to take advantage of customers.
Senior citizens and those who are low income are the main targets.
"Impostor utility scams can be highly profitable to scammers and financially detrimental to consumers," said UUAS Executive Director and former Texas Utility Consumer Advocate Sheri Givens. "To prevent future crimes, it is important to educate community leaders and consumers on how to spot, avoid, and report scams."
"It is extremely rare for a utility employee to show up at a customer's home without an appointment. However, if someone comes to your door claiming to be from the local utility and you are not expecting them, do not let them inside without proper photo identification," said Illinois American Water Vice President of Operations Mike Smyth.
According to American Water, if customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door.
They should then call their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company's website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
- The threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made usually within less than an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.