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You get a call saying your electricity or water will be shut off unless you pay a past due bill. You may not think you have a past due bill. But the caller sounds convincing, and you can’t afford to ignore it, especially if you’re running a small business.

Actually, you can’t afford to believe it.

The FTC has been hearing about scammers impersonating utility companies in an effort to get your money. Here are some warning signs of a utility scam:

  • If you know you already paid, stop. Even if the caller insists you have a past due bill. That’s a big red flag.
  • Never give out your banking information by email or phone. Utility companies don’t demand banking information by email or phone. And they won’t force you to pay by phone as your only option.
  • Did the caller demand payment by gift card, cash reload card, wiring money or cryptocurrency? Don’t do it. Legitimate companies don’t demand one specific method of payment. And they don’t generally accept gift cards (like iTunes or Amazon), cash reload cards (like MoneyPak, Vanilla, or Reloadit), or cryptocurrency (like bitcoin).

If you get a call like this, here are some things you can do:

  • Concerned that your bill is past due? Contact the utility company directly using the number on your paper bill or on the company’s website. Don’t call any number the caller gave you.
  • Never give banking information over the phone unless you place the call to a number you know is legitimate.
  • Tell the FTC. Your reports help us fight these scams. And report it to the real utility company. If you already paid, tell the payment provider – such as the wire transfer or gift card company. You may not get your money back, but it’s important to tell them about the scam.
  • Find out how you can protect yourself and your business from scams.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

September 17, 2018
September 17, 2018
My comment is on this isure is I submitted my data to this financial company through this email address applications@ criticalfinancing. com on this date sept 13 2018 noting has been hard please I need your advice God bless
September 17, 2018
Thank you for this information. It is very useful.
September 17, 2018
It's difficult to know if a phone number or website is safe. If the web address begins with 'https' is that for certain safe, or can even that be curupt?!
September 17, 2018
9/17/2018 If you have an answering service on your telephone just record the following: "I am monitoring my calls, please state your business and leave your name and number." If it's a scammer calling they will just hang up. It saves a lot of time running to the phone and talking to the scammer. If you recognize the person then you can answer.
September 17, 2018

In reply to by waltc

Actually, I have taken it a step further. I got tired of having to delete all the hang ups from my answering machine, so now, if I am in range of the telephone, I check the caller ID. If I don't know the number, I simply hang up while it is still ringing. I've done this for several years and only hung up on two legit calls in error - and they just called back, so then I did answer. It also feels so empowering to hang up the phone!! Good luck!
September 17, 2018
Thanks again
September 17, 2018
I got switched to a low rate company and at the end of the rate they charged 3X as much! The state utility commission will not do anything unless I fill out paperwork and go to court before a judge. They are getting big kickbacks and screwing the consumers here in Illinois!
September 18, 2018
I just don't answer my phone anymore unless I know who it really is. I got Microsoft today 2x so numerous that that they call and I don't answer and then they call again. Sick of it is mild wording. I as like others get it every day. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!! If I'm watching the TV it always says OK. What is with that? It isn't ok I know all of them.
September 19, 2018
I work for a church. I received a call this morning from a guy pretending to be from APS (our local electricity provider). He gave an amount due, phone number to call (800#) and that our electricity would be shut off in one hour if we didn't pay it. I immediately called APS using the phone number on their official website - and verified that our account was in good standing. Be careful out there! Scammers everywhere.
G. Johnson
September 24, 2018
October 13, 2018
I received a call the same way. But I ran the number online and the scammers were tapping into a real electric co. in Los Angles and I'm in Texas. I notified both my and LA electric companies. Strangely trying to report it the authorities has been difficult. So be careful, and remember most businesses DO NOT contact you by phone! So if you get a call think twice, hang up, and call the number on your bill to verify ANYTHING!
November 01, 2018
here is a good one.In the hospital for 6 months due to quadbypass surgery.I get out and here come all the bills.I look at the bills and half of them are from DR'S that I do not know.I ask who are you they say Oh I came to see you once when your dr was away.I was working but my pay was every two weeks and it was low wages.I finally got letters from a lawyer for payments I could not afford monthly.Finally a lawyer contacted me and told me to file for bankruptsy or I will be paying that lawyer the rest of my life. which I did .Problem solved.
January 05, 2019
UTILITY FRAUD Today I got a call from 1-800-340-0680 saying I owed $500 in unpaid electric bills. I was up to date. DO NOT CALL THAT NUMBER. 100% FRAUD. They say not to pay on line and to ONLY pay them over the phone. HANG UP.
land o lakes
January 20, 2019
In the city of Rochester, MN the utility board gets paid off to acquire property
April 24, 2019
I got sucked into a scam yesterday. I’m very angry because not only am I out of a big chunk of money, but I felt I endangered my baby by even speaking with these thieves!
May 08, 2019
Lets set up fake information to scam the scammer? Lets give them lots of fake info. Lots of it that will lead them right to law enforcement.
September 07, 2019
Relieved a call from (800) 617-9310 informing me that my electricity was about to be shut down for nonpayment. I asked them how could this be when I had not received a bill or disconnection notice. The guy on the phone said he was the manager and could assist me with paying my bill. He requested that I go down and get a gift card for $ 489.00 to cover what I owed. As soon as I heard that I knew it was a scam. No one pays bills by gift cards. I told him this was a scam and do not call me again. Please Do not fall for this
September 11, 2019
UTILITY SCAM.... Got a call today from a "FPL" (954-797-5000) letting me know my power was going to be suspended due to a problem with my account. He wanted me to pay my utility bill because it was going to be disconnected in 45 minutes.... SCAM... called FPL and reported it. BE CAREFUL if you call that number it has an FPL recording...
September 30, 2019
888-582-8885. pretending to be LADWP. Watch out.
October 21, 2019
I received a phone call purporting to be from Dep of Water and power. they were going to cut off my power; the usual. here is the number: 1-818-771-2212 please do something about it thank you
richard szymanski
November 13, 2019
Received phone call this morning supposedly from an Entergy rep advising me that they were about to disconnect electric service because of 3 months non-payment. The caller provided a number (800-251-7050) for their Billing and Finance Dept for me to call to get things sorted out. I smelled a scam right away but decided to play along to get more information for others who might get called. First I Googled the number and it is registered to the Breakthrough Learning Institute in NC. Then I called the real Entergy Billing number that I found online and confirmed that my account was up to date. Then I called the 800 number the scammer provided and the guy who answered knew my name and address. I told him that I had already confirmed payment status with the online Entergy number and then I asked why they going to disconnect service. Can you believe - he asked why I was calling him if I had already contacted the online Entergy number ..... then he hung up.
Not The Illumi…
January 15, 2020
Got this call from faked caller id of the real Illuminating Company. When you call the 1-800-540-7719 number, it's almost convincing, because it's a copy of the real voice menu from the real company. "illuminating company this call is to inform you that your power will get disconnected in 30 minutes due to a pending balance on the account please call the direct billing department number at 1-800-540-7719 to avoid power disconnection again the number is 1 800-540-7719 if you need to speak with a representative please press two thank you for choosing the illuminatin company goodbye"
recent widow
June 25, 2020
I requested from my water utility company a water check. They sent a person out. The person checked the water quality then proceeded to pressure me to buy their water purifying system. Thank heavens that my daughter showed up and set them straight and packing.