It was only months ago that we wrote about a phone scam in which an unknown caller poses as the IRS and attempts to con their victims into paying for nonexistant tax bills with threats of prison or deportation.
Now that tax time has come and gone, the scam is now being adapted to local electric and other utility companies such as PECO in southeast Pennsylvania. The scam has also been reported in Portland, Omaha, State College PA, New York State, and many more locations across the country.
In this scam, the victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to represent a local utility company. They explain that there is an overdue balance that must be paid immediately or the utility will be shut off. Sometimes the caller will have the victims actual account information which can make the call seem official. When the victim agrees to pay, they are told to use a prepaid "Money Pak" card, which is untraceable.
As always, our advice is to hang up and call the company yourself to verify any overdue balance. Never believe the word of anyone on a phone call that you did not initiate.
It's also safe to assume that if the company will not accept a credit card payment (which creates a paper trail), that there is something fishy going on and you should be extremely suspicious. Many utility companies also have local in-person payment centers where you can be sure you are making a legitimate payment to your account.