Utility bill scam targets Indiana residents

INDIAN HILL, OH (FOX19) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller asks consumers to hang up on a new scam where callers impersonate utility company employees and ask for payment on delinquent bills.

The Attorney General's office and utility companies have received reports about calls notifying homeowners of past due utility bills, but traditional forms of payment such as checks and credit cards are not accepted. Zoeller said the scammers ask for the customer to purchase a prepaid debit card, often found at Walmart or gas stations, and call them back with the PIN number.

"Criminals are using easily accessible prepaid debit cards to take victims' money and avoid being traced," Zoeller said. "This form of payment is just like giving cash – once you hand it over it's gone. As the weather begins to heat up consumers should be on alert as scammers will try to use threats – like utility disconnection – in order to con you out of your money."

Zoeller said if Indiana consumers receive a call asking for a prepaid card or personal information just hang-up and contact the utility provider directly.

Utility customers with delinquent accounts often receive multiple notifications, including written notice, from their utility over the span of several weeks before services are disconnected.

In order to appear legitimate, scammers use caller ID spoofing technology which allows them to disguise their phone number. For example, your caller ID screen may have the name of a local utility company, but the call could actually be coming from another state or country.

Individuals who believe they may be a victim can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General's office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-380-5516.

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