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Ameren Illinois scam targeting southern IL businesses

Updated: Jun. 20, 2018 at 1:37 PM CDT
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ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Ameren Illinois is warning customers of an electronic utility scam that is targeting customers across the state.

Locally, they have been calling businesses in Energy, Marion, West Frankfort and Murphysboro.

Scam artists have been targeting businesses and some residents posing as Ameren Illinois representatives and threatening immediate disconnection of service if payment is not within an hour.

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The scam artists urge that the payment be made via pre-paid money card. According to Ameren Illinois, more than 50 customers this week have already called the Ameren Illinois Customer Care Center to report the attempted scam.

Ameren Illinois shares the following warning signs of a scam attempt:

  • Threat to disconnect. Scammers may aggressively tell the customer the utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour. Ameren Illinois sends disconnect notices through the mail and always attempts to work with the customer on a solution before shutting off power.
  • Requests for personal information, such as social security numbers and bank accounts, as well as particulars about your Ameren Illinois bill. You should only share personal information in conversations you initiate.
  • Requests to pay with a prepaid card. Scammers instruct the customer to make payment with a prepaid card, which are widely available at retail stores. When the customer calls back, the scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.
  • Suspicious phone numbers. Scammers often call or ask to be called back at a number with a local area code, but not a number that belongs to Ameren Illinois.

In the last five years, more than 3,100 Ameren Illinois customers have reported being scammed or the victims of an attempted scam. The most common scheme involves a person who poses as an Ameren Illinois representative, calls a customer, and threatens to disconnect the customer's electric service if the customer does not make an immediate payment (usually through a prepaid credit card).

Small businesses are frequent targets because they yield higher dollar amounts than individual residential accounts and business owners fear having their power shut off during busy times of the day. Scams have cost Ameren Illinois customers more than $75,000 since 2013.

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