In what may have been its last warning issued before a government shut down, the Federal Trade Commission wants to prevent you from being ripped off by a utility bill scam.
The crooks call you and say they're about to cut off one of your utilities, like electric or gas, because you skirted out on paying the bill. You scratch your head and think, "I thought I paid this." Then you look at your caller ID and think, "Huh, this looks like a legit number." The FTC says that's about the time the caller ups the ante and says something along of the lines of, “I can stop this, but only if you pay me.”
The Feds say it’s a scam, but there’s a new twist. Instead of asking you to wire money, a new scam wants you to use GreenDot, buy a prepaid gift card, or use PayPal.Scammers using reloadable debit cards, gift cards, or PayPal is not new, but it’s growing. It lets them get your money in a way that you’ll never get it back.
If you're wondering how they get that legit looking phone number? Scammers can use computers to make it look like they’re calling from one place – when, in fact, they’re someplace else.
The FTC advises: If you get a call, email, text, or even a visit from someone telling you to make a payment via PayPal, or to buy a GreenDot card or a gift card, it’s probably a scam. Call your utility company on the phone number that appears on your bill, describe what happened, and report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission, online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.