A new but old scam is on the rise and is reportedly hitting droves of unwary and vulnerable consumers. This new but old scam has increased now that tax season is over, and W2 scams are difficult to succeed this time of year. The criminals are always trying to find ways to make money, and sometimes old scams still work.

Similar to the scam where criminals call consumers pretending to be from the IRS and scaring people into sending them money because they believe it is the IRS and that they are behind on taxes (the IRS will NEVER call you on the phone), in this scam, the criminals call pretending to be from the utility company and threaten to shut off your electricity and power. Losing your electricity is a scary thought, so it has been quite successful.

The caller says you must wire money quickly or use a prepaid card and tries to pressure the consumer into believing that the money must be paid that day or the power will be shut off. This is not how utility companies work, so if you get a call like this, get the person’s name and number and tell them you will call them back.

Contact the utility company through the phone number provided on your bill. You can call the company to check on your account, and to verify that you are up to date or behind, and if you are behind, at least you know that you are talking to the right people and not a scam artist.

Utility companies do not shut off your electricity just like that. If you are behind on your bill, try to work with the company to enter into a payment plan, but make sure you are working with the company directly and not some random person who calls you on the phone.

Never wire money or pay from a prepaid card to anyone over the phone if they have called you. Make sure you are working with the company itself to work out any details of payment. Be suspicious of anyone calling on the telephone asking for money. It is unusual and suspicious and probably a scam.