Winter Weather Utility Scam Reported in Missouri

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Missouri News Horizon
By Mike Ferguson

Ameren and the Better Business Bureau are warning about a scam that tends to follow the winter weather.

It works like this: someone calls you, claims to be from the utility company and threatens to shut off your gas or electricity because of an outstanding bill. They ask for checking or credit card information over the phone. In some cases, the caller told victims to pay through a Green Dot Money Pak card, which is a prepaid card system. Payments through that system and systems including Western Union and MoneyGram can be harder to trace by authorities.

The scam has been reported in southeast Missouri and similar efforts have been found in Illinois  and Iowa. In some cases, the victims were conned out of hundreds of dollars.

Utility companies will send written notice before shutting off your service. If you are an Ameren customer, you’ll get two written notices before any interruption in service. They will not make that kind of notification over the phone, through email or by sending someone to knock on the front door.

BBB and Ameren officials say the scam often targets the elderly. Anyone with questions about their account should contact the utility company directly even if that means hanging up on the caller, looking up the customer service number and calling the company to ensure you are speaking with a legitimate agent of the company.