With this scam, the caller claims to be a representative with the consumer’s local gas or electric utility company, stating that immediate payment, often by prepaid debit cards, credit cards or gift cards, is due to ensure the consumer’s heating service is not disconnected. Scammers often “spoof” utility company telephone numbers so the consumer’s caller ID suggests that the call is from the utility company. After consumers follow instructions via interactive prompts, they are connected to a live “customer service representative” who asks for the access code for a credit, debit or gift card. This information allows the scammer to cash out the card or sell it to a third party.
- Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail;
- No legitimate business will demand payment via gift cards, pre-paid debit cards or wire transfer;
- If you are not sure if a caller is legitimate, hang up, look up the company’s phone number independently, and use that number to verify the call with the company;
- If you get a recorded message asking you to hit a phone key to stop getting calls, just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify, and then target, live respondents;
- Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service that allows subscribers to block unwanted calls. If not, encourage your provider to start offering a blocking service. Visit the FCC’s website for more information and resources on available blocking tools at www.fcc.gov/unwanted-calls.