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You get a robocall saying you paid too much on a utility bill. To make up for this mistake, they say, you’ll get a cash refund and a discount on your future bills. All you have to do is press a number to get your money and discount. You say to yourself: “What luck!” You might think this strange surprise will help you save some much-needed money.

Sorry but…not so fast. This is probably just another utility scam — or, at best, a marketing trick — to get your money. In the unlikely event you really did pay more than you owed on your bill, utility companies don’t usually give cash refunds. Instead, they credit the extra money to your account. As for the future discount on your bill, not likely. At best, this could be a third-party service provider claiming you’ll save money if you switch to their service. But sometimes these services come with catches that could actually have you paying more on your bill — or even two bills at once: your utility company’s and the service provider’s.

So if you get one of these calls, here’s what to do:

  • Hang up. Don’t press any numbers or respond to any instructions. If you press or respond, you’ll probably wind up getting more unwanted calls like this.
  • Never give the caller your Social Security number, account details, or...well, just don’t tell them anything. Scammers can use almost any information you give them to make a buck at your expense.
  • Call your utility company, using the number on your bill. Tell them about the call and — if you still wonder— ask if the call was for real.
  • If you want to consider using a third-party utility company, check with the utility regulatory agency in your state to understand your rights and how these companies are supposed to work.
  • Tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint if you spot this or any other scams.
Scams

6 Comments


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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.

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Ms.Muggi
October 23, 2020
Great Advice.........Thank you.......Muggi
mrsmike6
October 23, 2020
I get these calls all the time. They leave messages on my answering machine all the time. I refuse to answer any phone call I do not know. It’s the only way to survive in this robo world....
Patrice
October 23, 2020
I am inundated with these type of calls along with warranty expirations...I never pick up the phone just let the AM take them. Thanks for keeping us aware.
senior, alert
October 24, 2020
I received a call from, what I noticed on my caller ID, from my primary bank. When I answered the message was , that I had over paid my my light bill and I was due a refund. I hung up. I live in an apartment building, utilities included.
Pumpkin20
October 24, 2020
Thank you again, FTC for keeping us inform. I totally agree @Ms. Muggi. This world is filled with scammers looking for something for nothing. It's so sad.
CWeavDon't use…
October 24, 2020
Will the Robo calls ever end??? I'm on every site to stop them but they keep getting through!! Never pick up!