Attorney Gen Mike Dewine warns Ohioans of utility scam - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Ohioans warned of utility scam

COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) -

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of phone scams involving utilities.

Two Ohio consumers reported losing about $800 each after receiving a call from someone claiming to represent a utility company and demanding payment. Dozens of other consumers are reporting unsolicited calls about lowering their energy rates.

"With current technology, it can be difficult to determine if a call is legitimate or a scam, and with fluctuating temperatures and high bills, utility scams can be more effective," Attorney General DeWine said. "It's important to remember that any time you receive an unexpected call, you have the right to ask questions, demand answers, or simply hang up."

In a recently reported scam, a caller — pretending to represent a utility company — said the consumer's electrical power would be shut off unless the consumer sent hundreds of dollars using a prepaid money card. In reality, the call was not coming from the consumer's utility company. 

Consumers also are reporting unsolicited phone calls from individuals claiming they can lower consumers' natural gas rates. The Attorney General's Office has received approximately 100 complaints about these calls in the last two months, and more than 80 of the complaints were filed since July 1. In the complaints, consumers from Northeast Ohio generally report receiving a call from a 740 or 440 area code phone number. The caller claims to represent Dominion and offers a discount or a lower gas rate. Dominion East Ohio says these calls are not from Dominion and that the business does not solicit consumers over the phone.

Kate Hanson with the Attorney General's Office says they know of one Cincinnati area consumer who got a call from someone who said s/he represented Duke and that he owed money.

Consumers can help protect themselves by following these tips:

  • Don't trust your caller ID. Callers can disguise the number that appears on your caller ID, making it very difficult to determine where a call is coming from.
  • Don't respond to robocalls. Even if the call instructs you to press a button to opt out, don't follow the instructions. By pressing a button you confirm that you have an active phone number and you may receive even more calls.
  • Ask callers to identify themselves and provide written information. If they refuse, it is probably not a legitimate business.
  • Know your rights. Natural gas and electric companies generally must give you a 14-day notice before disconnecting your service. Contact the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, www.puco.ohio.gov, to learn more and to compare electric or natural gas offers in your region.
  • When in doubt, hang up. If a caller claims to represent your utility company but makes threats or demands immediate payment, hang up and call your utility company using a number you know to be legitimate, such as a number on your most recent statement.
  • Beware of requests for prepaid money cards. This is a preferred payment method for scammers.
  • Don't give out personal information over the phone. 
  • FOX19 HeadlinesMore>>

  • Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

    Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

    Monday, June 18 2018 9:00 AM EDT2018-06-18 13:00:17 GMT
    Monday, June 18 2018 1:36 PM EDT2018-06-18 17:36:00 GMT
    (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP). In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the...(U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP). In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the...
    Hundreds of unaccompanied child immigrants arrested at the U.S. border are being held in metal cages at a family detention facility in McAllen, Texas.Full Story >
    Hundreds of unaccompanied child immigrants arrested at the U.S. border are being held in metal cages at a family detention facility in McAllen, Texas.Full Story >
  • Strong quake near Osaka, Japan, kills 4, knocks over walls

    Strong quake near Osaka, Japan, kills 4, knocks over walls

    Sunday, June 17 2018 9:29 PM EDT2018-06-18 01:29:52 GMT
    Monday, June 18 2018 1:33 PM EDT2018-06-18 17:33:55 GMT
    (Takaki Yajima/Kyodo News via AP). School children take shelter at schoolyard in Ikeda, Osaka, following an earthquake Monday, June 18, 2018.  A strong earthquake has shaken the city of Osaka in western Japan. There are reports of scattered damage incl...(Takaki Yajima/Kyodo News via AP). School children take shelter at schoolyard in Ikeda, Osaka, following an earthquake Monday, June 18, 2018. A strong earthquake has shaken the city of Osaka in western Japan. There are reports of scattered damage incl...

    A strong earthquake shook the city of Osaka in western Japan, causing scattered damage including broken glass and partial building collapses.

    Full Story >

    A strong earthquake shook the city of Osaka in western Japan, causing scattered damage including broken glass and partial building collapses.

    Full Story >
  • Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

    Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

    Monday, June 18 2018 5:20 AM EDT2018-06-18 09:20:00 GMT
    Monday, June 18 2018 1:33 PM EDT2018-06-18 17:33:15 GMT
    In its latest revision to an international disease classification manual, the U.N. health agency said Monday that classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will 'serve a public health purpose for countries.' (Source: Pixabay)In its latest revision to an international disease classification manual, the U.N. health agency said Monday that classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will 'serve a public health purpose for countries.' (Source: Pixabay)

    The World Health Organization says that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition, in a move that some critics warn may risk stigmatizing its young players.

    Full Story >

    The World Health Organization says that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition, in a move that some critics warn may risk stigmatizing its young players.

    Full Story >
Powered by Frankly