Take Power Back: Advice to Stay Safe from Customer Service Scams & Utility Scams

suspicious person on phone

A business is often measured by its customer service, with good service being part of how we get questions answered and problems solved via telephone, email or live chat. But when dealing with customer service issues it is important to be cautious. Scammers can masquerade as customer service representatives in attempts to trick you out of your money or your personal information.

Another trick to be on alert for is when someone calls claiming to be from your utility company with a payment or account issue. They could say that if you don’t take action immediately your service will be cut.

Don't Fall For The Scam

A common scam has targeted both consumers and business owners, and the people behind the hoaxes are even able to make the caller ID on your phone look like it’s actually coming from your utility company. If you get a call like this, it’s important not to panic. Your power or water won’t be cut because the callers have no way to do that.

Step One: Hang Up Your Phone

If you ever receive a suspicious phone call or unexpected message, take control of the situation by not reacting emotionally or panicking. The scammers are using social engineering tactics to get you to stop thinking critically in order to steal from you. Read more about social engineering. Instead, hang up the phone and call back using a legitimate contact number to verify your account or information has an issue to address. 

Confirm You're Working with an Official Representative

Go to a business’s official website to look for customer service contact options, such as phone numbers, email forms or live chat. Call your utility company directly, using the phone number printed on your most recent bill or the one listed on that company’s official website. It’s also likely that any product warranty or registration will include a method for contacting customer service. For a credit card or debit card issue, call the toll-free number on the back of your card.

When you get in touch with an official customer service representative, tell them what happened and ask them to check your account for any valid concerns or issues. Your utility company will want to take note of the attempted scam and may want to take additional steps to report it.

Important Reminders to Stay Safe from Scams

Your bank, utility service company or other service providers WILL NOT call you out of the blue asking for personal information such as account or Social Security numbers. If you have any overdue account balances that are valid, work with official customer service channels. Payments should be made through normal or expected methods. These payments should not be made with prepaid cards, cash or wire transfers.

Additional safety tips include:

  • Don’t fall for unsolicited emails or phone calls that could contain malware or that threaten you.
  • Utility companies won’t call to threaten you. Customers who really are behind on their bill will be sent multiple notices before any service is disconnected.
  • Never grant remote access to your computer, as malware could be installed to steal sensitive data like usernames, passwords or account information.
  • Never give out your password over the phone. Legitimate businesses won’t ask for it. You should always keep your passwords private.
  • Never provide your credit card or other financial information to an unsolicited caller. And don’t go to any website address they give you to enter any personal or banking information.

Remember, with a little knowledge, you have the power to shut these scammers down. For additional tips and information, check out our additional resources to protect you from scams.


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