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Iowa Attorney General warns of utility bill scam

DES MOINES – You might think your utility bill amount is already a scam, but watch out for the other scammers out there want you to pay them after they trick you into thinking they will shut your power off.

Beware of callers who claim they represent your local power company and threaten to shut off your electricity unless you make immediate payment, Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller said today.

In this scam, a caller claims that you owe your utility company an overdue balance, and must make an “electronic payment” within a matter of hours or the company will shut off your power. The caller directs you to go to a local store that sells reloadable debit cards, such as a Green Dot prepaid debit card. Once you obtain the card and load it with money, the caller requests the card number to obtain the funds.

Criminals generally operate this type of scam from foreign countries. They manipulate caller-ID devices, called “spoofing,” to appear as if their calls originate from your local utility company. If a criminal successfully obtains a payment through a prepaid debit card, it is often impossible to recover the lost funds.

General Advice

– If you get a call from someone who claims they are collecting on behalf of your local utility—even if a caller ID device shows the utility—hang up.

– Utilities do not demand immediate payment via prepaid debit cards and threaten immediate disconnection.

– Do not provide or confirm personal information or financial information to anyone who calls.
To confirm your account status with your utility, call the company using the number listed on your monthly utility bill, phone book or known website. Do not call the number listed on your caller ID.
You do not need to report the scam if you simply received a call. However, if you lost money through the scam, report it immediately to your local police department or sheriff’s office.

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