Opportunistic fraudsters have been making the rounds in Fairfield County, posing as utility workers threatening to turn the lights off at local businesses.
The Shelton Police Department issued an alert, cautioning that local businesses have recently been targeted by scammers calling and pretending to be from United Illuminating. The businesses are told that they are behind on their electric bills and that the power will be shut off immediately unless a payment is made.
“It’s an old swindle with some new twists,” officials from the utility company stated. “Caller ID may show the call is coming from the utility. In some cases, the perpetrators seem to have specific knowledge about the customers they’re calling. They may even provide a callback number with a recorded greeting similar to the energy company’s customer service line.”
Fraudsters have been known to tell the customer that the company had not received a recent payment or incorrectly processed a payment, so the customer must pay again. The scammer often demands the victim purchase a prepaid debit card - “Green Dot” is a common brand - to make the payment. Officials noted that “this is a sure sign of a scam.”
According to United Illuminating, if a customer falls behind on payments, they will receive a notice with a specific disconnection date, and will have the opportunity to make a payment before any disconnection.
In an effort to protect area residents, officials said that customers should:
- Check account status. Creating an online profile at the company’s website is a quick way to check account status. Or, call the company’s Customer Care Center at the number found on the bill or the company’s website. (Do not use callback numbers provided by unsolicited callers.) Representatives can verify account status and work with customers to resolve any issues.
- Check ID. Employees of all AVANGRID companies carry company-issued IDs. Ask for ID from any in-person visitor and call the company to verify their identity and nature of their business. Use the number on the company’s bill or website. Our employees are happy to comply with an identity verification request.
- Protect personal information. Customers should never share personal or financial information, including outstanding balances, without first verifying whom they’re speaking with.
- Collect evidence. Customers who suspect a scam are urged to get the name and number from caller ID, if available, write down any call-back number provided, and take notes on what the caller said. This will help investigators work with authorities to shut down the scam.
- Report it. Customers should report the scam to the utility, local law enforcement, and the Federal Trade Commission. This will help authorities shut down scams and prosecute the scammers.
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