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: