Ameren suggests tips on avoiding small business scams

Ameren suggests tips on avoiding small business scams
Ameren is offering tips to avoid small business scams (Source: KFVS)

ST. LOUIS, MO (KFVS) - Ameren has seen an uptick in the number of scam attempts by individuals posing as an Ameren representative.

According to the Better Business Bureau, usually, the criminal will call or email a business, or show up on site demanding payment or personal information.

“We take scams targeting our customers seriously and personally,” said Terry Roberds, director of corporate security at Ameren. “Now we see scammers using aggressive and sophisticated tactics threatening to cut service, demanding immediate payment, usually through an untraceable transaction. We want all our customer to know that isn’t how Ameren works.”

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To help its business customers recognize scam attempts, Ameren shared the following tips and insight on how to avoid becoming a victim.

  • Never give your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking, savings or Ameren 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 or Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000.
  • Never buy 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.

According to the BBB, scam activity directed at small businesses costs those businesses $7 billion annually.

In addition to utility scams, the most common small-business scams identified by the Better Business Bureau include:

Bank/credit card company imposter - This scam typically involves impersonation of a bank or other credit-card issuer. Claiming the need to verify account information, con artists try to fool their targets into sharing credit card or banking information.

Charity - These scammers typically choose a name that sounds similar to a reputable charity. They may ask the business to donate or show its support by purchasing ad space in a calendar or publication. Then they disappear.

Fake invoice/supplier bill - Scammers prey on business owners and hope they won’t notice a bill, often for office supplies that the company never ordered. In other cases, scammers send urgent notices for renewal of website domain hosting or other critical services, hoping businesses will pay without due diligence.

Government agency imposter - Scammers impersonating government agents threaten to suspend business licenses, impose fines, or even take legal action if the business doesn’t pay taxes, renew government licenses or registrations, or pay other fees. Sometimes they trick businesses into buying workplace compliance posters that are available for free, or pressure them to pay upfront fees for nonexistent business grants.

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