BBB Warns Local Businesses about Callers Threatening to Shut Off Electricity
Sue McConnell, Sr. VP
For Immediate Release – February 5, 2013 – BBB is advising local businesses to hang up on callers claiming to be from The Illuminating Company or other utility who demand an immediate payment to avoid having electricity shut off.
Cindy Sears, owner of #1 Express Carwash & Detail Center in Westlake, told BBB her business received a call earlier today from William Gonzalez who claimed to be with the “shut down department” of the Illuminating Company. Gonzalez told Sears that her power would be shut off at 12:30 today unless she made a payment immediately. He claimed her recent check to the utility was being returned because it wasn’t enough to cover the amount owed. She was instructed to pay $1850.33 using a Green Dot MoneyPak card.
Sears later confirmed with The Illuminating Company that this call did not come from them and that her account was current.
This scam is being reported not only in the Cleveland area, but other states as well. The callers are described as having heavy accents and use phone numbers with local area codes.
Scammers frequently try to install a sense of panic in victims in attempts to get quick cash. They usually request payment by wire transfer, credit card, or – most recently – Green Dot Money Pak cards.
Do your research. If you receive a call claiming to be from your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.