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Scam Alert

DEFENDERS: Utility scams increase during the holiday season

KMIZ

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Holiday’s can be a stressful time and scammers are taking advantage of it. During this time of year, Ameren is reminding customers to be on the look out for utility scams

Ameren told ABC 17 News during the holidays and extreme weather, utility scams tend to be on the rise. 

Here are the different types of scams Ameren says have been reported to them: 

  • Scammers posing as Ameren employees, threatening to disconnect or shut off service if a customer fails to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment.
  • They also often mask incoming calls as coming from Ameren on caller ID systems, and then give a different phone number to make a payment.
  • Scammers are known to record a voice message and use it to trick customers into thinking they've called the utility company. The scammer gives a fake case number and/or fake identification number of a company truck that is in the vicinity of the customer's home.
  • Equipment or repair bogus fee: Scammers may call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter.
  • Overpayment trick: Scammers call claiming that you've overpaid your utility bill and need to provide personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
  • Advice or suggestion on form of payment: loading an app, bitcoin, or locations of where to get cash cards.

Maria Gomez a security supervisor for Ameren told ABC 17 News scammers really amp up the sense of urgency or else your service could be disconnected. 

“Ameren is not going to call people and scare them and tell them that their power is going to be immediately cut off.” Gomez said, “They're gonna get something in the mail, they'll know ahead of time.”

Gomez said in a typical year Ameren sees about 2,000 utility scams reported to them. She said there’s usually an uptick when there are severe temperature fluctuations when people really need their power the most. 

If you believe you are getting scammed, Ameren said to call their customer service line to double-check the status of your account. 

ABC 17 News Investigates / Defenders / Holidays / Money / News / Top Stories

Deborah Kendrick

Deborah is a weekday morning anchor and investigative reporter for ABC 17 News.

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