How Utility Scams Work
Someone calls claiming to be from your gas, water, or electric company. They say your service will be cut off if you don’t pay them immediately. This is a scam. Real utility companies don’t do this. But these scammers want to scare you into paying, before you have time to confirm what they’re telling you.
The caller goes on, telling you to pay by wiring money through a company like Western Union or MoneyGram, giving the caller the numbers of a reloadable card or gift card, or paying them with cryptocurrency. Scammers tell you to pay this way because it’s hard to track that money, and almost impossible to get it back.
How To Avoid Utility Scams
- Hang up and call the utility company yourself. Call the company using the number on your bill or the utility company’s website even if the person who contacted you left a call-back number. Often times, those call-back numbers are fake. If the message came by text, don’t respond and do the same. If your bill says you owe anything, pay it as you normally would, not as the caller says.
- Never wire money or pay with a reloadable card, gift card, or cryptocurrency to anyone who demands it. Only scammers will require one of those kinds of payment. Your utility company won’t ask you to pay that way. Once you send the money, you probably won’t get it back.
If you’re actually behind on your utility bills, read Getting Utility Services: Why Your Credit Matters to learn more about your options.
What To Do If You Paid a Scammer
Scammers often ask you to pay in ways that make it tough to get your money back. No matter how you paid a scammer, the sooner you act, the better. Learn more about how to get your money back.
Report Utility Scams
If you got a call from or were contacted by a fake utility company
- report the scam to your utility company online or by calling a number you know is real
- report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- report it to your state attorney general.
And be sure to let other people know about this scam. Then they can avoid it, too.