During the busiest time of your workday, you get an urgent call. It’s the electric company. Pay your late bill now, or they’ll cut off your power.
Don’t pay. It’s a scam. It’s not the utility company on the phone. It’s a scammer trying to trick you into paying them. How can you tell? The caller wants you to pay by wire transfer or with a gift card. No matter the story, that’s a sure sign of a scam.
Scammers pretend to call from a gas, electric, or water company saying your service is about to be interrupted. They want to scare you into believing a late bill must be paid immediately, often with a wire transfer or a reloadable card or gift card. Their timing is often carefully planned to create the greatest urgency — like just before the dinner rush in a restaurant.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers’ tactics include:
- Pretending to be to be someone you trust. They make themselves seem believable by pretending to be connected with a company you know or a government agency.
- creating a sense of urgency. They rush you into making a quick decision before you look into it.
- Using intimidation and fear. They tell you that something terrible is about to happen to get you to send a payment before you have a chance to check out their claims.
- Using untraceable payment methods. They often want payment through wire transfers, reloadable cards, or gift cards that are nearly impossible to reverse or track.
For more information about keeping yourself and your small business safe from scammers, visit the Federal Trade Commission at: