Local Gas Company warns of Utility Scams
Utility Scams on the Rise
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – It’s the holiday season and while this is normally a time for giving and celebrating – scammers are lurking and waiting to take your money.
One local company tells News 12 scams pop up in many different forms and it’s time for you to be on the lookout- now more than ever.
This week is utility scam awareness week and the Chattanooga Gas Company wants its customers to be aware of the tactics used by scammers.
“Any time an individual presents themselves as a utility worker and they make immediate demands- you should realize that’s a fraud,” says Paul Leath, Director of Regional Operations at Chattanooga Gas Company.
In recent years, scammers have gotten creatively deceptive with increased calls, texts, emails, and in-person tactics, contacting electric and gas customers asking for immediate payment from worried customers who are wanting to stay warm during the holidays.
“They create emergencies that if you don’t pay your power bill right then your power will be turned off. We find that this happens a lot as it gets colder or really warm when people are very worried about going without utilities,” says Michele Mason, President of BBB.
“We would never use aggressive tactics with our customers, make threats of disconnection immediately, asking for immediate payments to a single source. Be aware of frauds like ‘you have overpaid.’ They want your account and payment info so they can take your money and you don’t get a refund but get ripped off,” says Leath.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, imposter scams cost consumers more than $3.3 billion in 2020 – an increase of nearly $1.5 billion from 2019.
Chattanooga Gas Company says every representative will identify themselves with a badge and will never ask for payment via email. If you have a feeling that it’s a scam- it most likely is.
“If they are on a phone call with someone who’s claiming to be with the Chattanooga gas company; you can ask them ‘what was the amount of my last bill that I paid, date, and account number. If they truly work for us they have all that information,” says Leath.
If you believe a scammer is contacting you- always call your company to verify the proposed problem before giving out critical information.