MISSOURI (KFVS) - Ahead of National Consumer Protection Week, Ameren Missouri is advising customers on tricks scammers use to steal their money.
Ameren Missouri says its goal is to educate customers on how they can guard against becoming victims to imposter utility scams.
"Within the last few months, we've seen an uptick in reported scams across our service territory, specifically targeting our small business customers," said Tara Oglesby, vice president of Customer Experience at Ameren Missouri. "These scammers are using advanced tactics such as mimicking our voice response systems and displaying our phone numbers on caller ID, which can be very convincing."
More than 3,000 Ameren Missouri customers have reposted scam activity or have fallen victim to a scam within the past four years. Threatening to disconnect or shut off services over the phone is among the most common scams. The scammer demands immediate payment, typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment.
Oglesby added that Ameren Missouri is launching a public awareness campaign during National Consumer Protection Week to help customers stay vigilant in preventing scams.
The protection campaign is in alignment with the Utilities United Against Scams collaborative, a group of more than 100 utilities across the nation working together to help stop scams targeting utility customers.
"We want our customers to know that we would never pressure anyone for immediate payment over the phone or demand that a specific credit card or phone number be used to make a payment," Oglesby explained.
Here are some tips from Ameren Missouri to better protect yourself:
- Never give your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who calls, sends an email, or comes to your home requesting this information.
- Don't trust anyone asking for immediate payment. If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583.
- Never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill. Ameren customers can make payments online, by phone, electronic check, mail or at pay in person locations.