6 Home Utility Company Scams to Beware Of (Water, Electric & Gas)

Power Restoration Scams

Power Company Worker Employee Control Room

A power restoration scam is the reverse of a power shutoff scam. Instead of threatening to shut off your electricity, the scammers offer to help you get it back — for a fee.

How the Scam Works

This scam shows up in neighborhoods that have lost power due to a storm or other natural disaster. Scammers dressed as electric company workers go from door to door, offering to restore your power for a one-time payment. Scammers may also contact you by phone if you have an old-fashioned landline that works without power.

Sometimes, the scammers tell you that you must pay a fee to get your electric service back. Other times, they say you’ll get your power back eventually, but you can pay a fee for an “express service restoration” to get it back faster.

In reality, these people don’t work for the power company. They can’t and won’t get your electricity back. All they will do is take your money and run.

How to Tell It’s a Scam

This is an easy one. Any time anyone offers to restore your power for a fee, it’s a scam, period. Only the real utility company can restore your electric service, and they have to do it for free. Paying a fee won’t get it done any faster.

What to Do

That’s easy too: Just shut the door or hang up on the caller. Don’t even bother to ask questions. It’s definitely a scam, so don’t waste a minute of your time on it.

Replacement & Repair Scams

Analog Electric Meters

Occasionally, your real electric utility needs to make repairs or replacements to equipment in your house, such as your electric meter. Scammers take advantage of this fact by posing as utility workers and trying to charge you a fee for new equipment.

How the Scam Works

This scam usually occurs by phone. Someone claiming to be from the power company calls you and says they need to make some changes to the equipment in your home. They may claim they need to make repairs, replace your electric meter, or upgrade you to a new smart meter.

The callers then demand upfront payment for this “necessary” service. If you refuse to pay, they may threaten to cut off your electricity.

How to Tell It’s a Scam

Some versions of this scam go to great lengths to make the call look legitimate. They may call you from a spoofed number, set up an appointment for the installation, and give you a fake call-back number.

However, there are a few ways to tell that the call is a fraud. Your real power company usually won’t replace your meter unless you report that it’s damaged. If they do need to replace or upgrade it, they’ll contact you ahead of time to let you know. And finally, if there’s any charge for the new equipment, they’ll simply add it to your electric bill rather than asking for a separate payment.

What to Do

Treat this like any other scam. Don’t pay a fee or give out any personal information over the phone. If you think the message might be legitimate, contact your utility to check. Make sure to call its official number or visit its website, rather than using a call-back number provided to you over the phone.

 

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