In a recent blog, we shared ways to spend less money on winter utility bills. This week, we’re focusing on winter utility scams. Just this fall, PSE&G released an alert that scammers were impersonating their representatives, noting 1,000 of their customers in 2022 reported being a victim of a scam. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the warning signs and develop strategies to avoid any future scams from happening to you.
What is a utility scam?
A utility scam is when someone pretends to be your utility company to take your money. It can look like a call from your gas, electric, or water company threatening to cut off your service if you don’t pay a bill immediately. It could be an individual impersonating a utility company employee at your door saying they need to repair equipment and that you have to pay on the spot. It could also be someone calling for your information to process a bill.
How to avoid a utility scam
Knowing the signs is the first step in avoiding a scam. If you ever feel uneasy about an email, phone call, or visit from your utility provider – trust your instincts. Chances are you’re getting contacted by a scammer. Here are signs of a winter utility scam to look out for.
- Threats of disconnecting your service if a bill is not paid for within the hour
- Requests of an immediate payment through a payment app, gift card, or even Bitcoin
- Requests for personal or card information
- In person demands for payments and high pressure door-to-door sales
- Offers of products or services with drastic, too good to be true savings
Do your research! If you see an offer from a utility company, search them online with words like “scam” or “reviews.” It’s also recommended that you get any offers or savings in writing before accepting or signing a contract.
What to do if you encounter a scam
If you’re contacted by a fake utility company (or suspect you were), contact your current service provider, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and contact your state attorney general. It’s also recommended that you let others know about the scam so they can avoid it too. If you’ve already paid a scammer or gave them your personal information, contact your bank immediately. The FTC also has a handy guide for victims of a scam with advice and resources.
You can count on First Financial to go above and beyond to help you avoid fraud and protect your finances. If you ever see something suspicious, you can always contact one of our financial experts to help you determine if the offer, website, or service is legitimate. Contact our member services department at 732-312-1500 or visit one of our branches.
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