As the mercury drops, one can bet con artists will be out impersonating utility workers —both in person and on the phone. There have already been reports in Washington, Idaho and Montana concerning scammers pretending to be Avista Utility workers demanding consumers and businesses pay for past due bills. Oftentimes they tell their victim to pay with green dot (prepaid) Debit cards, making it impossible to recoup the funds lost.
Don’t get taken by these impostors. Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest recommends the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Investigate past due bills. Make sure the caller, letter or email is actually from the utility company. To double check, call the company using the phone number listed on their official website. Confirm where and how to pay the bill and ask how they send past due bills. All of this can be done without giving out account information over the phone.
- Never wire money for a payment. Once the money is sent, it is gone forever. Instead, pay with credit or debit card so charges can be disputed if needed.
- Don’t let them in. It’s not just cash scammers are after. Some fake utility workers pretend to visit homeowners for routine checks, but are actually scoping out the homes security so they can return later to burglarize it. It’s rare for a utility company to do a home visit. If one does show up at the door, ask for identification and look for a vehicle with a company logo on it.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a utility scam should contact their local law enforcement and report the incident to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB Northwest serves more than 14 million consumers in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Western Wyoming.