Scam: Fake Electric Bill Collectors

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Updated: 9/09/2014 4:24 pm
A scam is sweeping East Idaho and it’s been so effective that it’s taken hundreds of dollars from business owners with a single phone call. Steve Muse, with Idaho Power explained how it has effected local residents.

“Please, we’ve had customers that have actually been scammed and we feel so bad for that and it’s not Idaho power and they’re doing their best to take advantage of a situation and we just don’t want them to fall for this scam.”

The scam that Steven is talking about has become all too common in east Idaho. Dale Dixon, The president of the better business bureau serving the Snake River region describes this scam.

“Sorry to say this is a common scam because so many people fall for it, in this case a thousand dollars lost by a local business when somebody called claiming to be the power company, threatening to shut off power unless a credit card was given,” Dixon said.

Muse wanted to remind Idaho power customers if you receive this type of phone call, to call the authorities immediately.

“Please call the police the attorney general the better business bureau go through those processes, we want these spammers to get caught and hopefully to go to jail,” Muse said.

Another wise reminder for consumers is that power companies do not act in this manner, asking for prepaid credit cards as a form of payment.

Dixon with the BBB explained that, “It’s so important for people and business owners to realize that the utility company whether it be electricity, gas or any other, will not call you out of the blue, claiming that your bill is past due and you must pay now or risk having the service turned off. They’re going to give you time to pay in a legitimate way rather than a credit card over the phone immediately. If you get a call like this, hang up the phone.”

The scam artist thought that they had found another victim, but they had met their match when they called Steve, the owner of
Buddy’s restaurant here in Pocatello.

Steve Piper explained that, “They told me to go to either a Kmart or a Common Cents store and get a green dot card with no credit card logo on it.”

The would-be scammers then told Steve that the bill was going to be fourteen hundred dollars. Steve didn’t buy the story. He went over and talked to some contacts that he had over at Idaho Power.

“I went down to Idaho Power and I asked them are you going to be shutting off my power in the next 45 minutes? They said, we don’t know anything about it,” Piper said.

What Steve did next was to call back the would-be scammer while he was at Idaho Power to see if they could make a connection. What the would-be scammer did next was the escalate the situation.

“You now have ten minutes in order to get this green dot card. I say you know what I don’t think this is on the level, I said, If you’re from Idaho Power, where are you located at now, I was standing in Idaho Power at this time,” Piper added.

Steve’s quick thinking helped him avoid this scam, but not all business owners have been so lucky. This story certainly serves as a reminder to be weary of businesses demanding credit card or other personal information over the phone.

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