What is it?
Utilities throughout the nation have reported scams by people posing as utility employees. In one scam, the scammer either calls or goes door to door and threatens that the utility service will be shut off unless he receives immediate payment. The scammer requires immediate payment by Western Union, credit card, e-Check, or prepaid cards, all methods that are difficult to later reverse. This scam is made especially effective when the scammer has the utility customer’s account information. It is imperative that customer-specific information including account number, amount past due and amount currently due, be available only to authorized utility representatives and the individual customer..
How does it work?
Scammers can often find customer-specific utility billing information on the internet. With this information, an unauthorized person, posing as a representative from your utility company, can contact any of your customers and likely convince them they have to make an immediate payment or their utility service will be cut off. The customer-specific billing information to which the scammer has gained access is used to make your customer believe the shutoff threat is legitimate and comes from your utility company. The scammer’s immediate payment demand is usually requested to be made by a method not easily reversed.
Make sure that your customers understand your late-payment, bill-collection process. Publicize your shutoff-for-non-payment procedures. Have all your company bill collectors and service personnel carry a company badge, wear company uniforms, and drive company vehicles with your logo prominently displayed. Let your customers know that if they are ever unsure about who they are talking with, they should end the conversation and then immediately call the number provided on your utility statement.
This scam is especially effective when the scammer can gain access to your customer’s account information such as his account number, amount due, past due, and the bill due date. Each piece of information that the scammer has increases the probability that the scam will work. Utilities are encouraged to make sure that this information is available only to authorized representatives and the individual customer.
Contact NeonLink, LLC to be advised on ways to protect your on-line customer information.