LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada’s Attorney General Aaron Ford is warning about a utility scam that’s been around for awhile but involves a “new sophisticated twist” that consumers might not know.
According to a news release from Ford’s office, the typical scam involves someone posing as a utility worker calling the consumer make immediate payment on a past due utility bill to avoid a shutoff. The scammer will call from a number that has been spoofed to look like it belongs to an actual power company, but really doesn’t.
In this newer version, the scammer asks the customer to go to a bill pay kiosk while the scammer remains on the phone. The scammer instructs the consumer to pay in cash at the kiosk using a QR code sent by the scammer. The customer is led to believe the QR code is linked to their account and will pay the unpaid balance with the utility but it’s actually linked to the scammer’s account, not the utility.
Customers should always contact the utility company directly to verify the status of their account.
The following tips could help you avoid imposter scams:
- If you are being pressured to make an immediate payment, remain calm and ask questions to confirm your account status before making a payment;
- Don’t agree to make payments by wire transfer or with a prepaid card over the telephone. A legitimate utility representative will explain to a customer how a payment can be made using the utility’s established payment options, and will not demand payment over the phone; and
- Don’t feel pressured by an upcoming weekend or holiday. According to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission website, a utility company may not disconnect or terminate service the day before a weekend, on the weekend or on a State holiday, unless a safety issue requires disconnection.
Ask for details about your account to verify whether the caller is legitimate. If the caller is unable or unwilling to provide details such as dates and amounts of prior invoices and payments, hang up and call the utility company directly.