Ameren gives tips to avoid imposters on Utility Scam Awareness Day

(MGN Online)

Small businesses are at highest risk for utility scams, and a Heartland utility is working to reveal imposters and raise awareness of the scams on Utility Scam Awareness Day Wednesday.

According to a press release from Ameren, which provides power for much of northeast Missouri, approximately 1,500 of the company’s customers are targeted each year by imposter utility scams.

“Scammers have been targeting mostly small business customers throughout Ameren’s service area, as well as more vulnerable demographics,” said Tim Reagan, senior director of Corporate Security at Ameren, in a press release. “Small businesses are particularly susceptible to scams because the attempts are made during their busiest hours, occasionally yield higher dollar amounts, and the employees affected aren’t usually the ones making utility payments.”

Ameren said there are some common signs of potential scam activity:

  • Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made -- usually within less than an hour.
  • Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card -- widely available at retail stores -- then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company. Ameren will never ask you to pay for a prepaid card.
  • Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.

Utilities advise to never give any credit, debit, Social Security, ATM, checking or saving account numbers to anyone who calls, sends an email or comes to your home requesting this information.

Anyone who thinks they have been contacted by someone pretending to work for Ameren can contact Ameren directly at 1-800-552-7583, and visit Ameren's website for more information on scams.

Ameren is part of the Utilities United Against Scams collaborative, a group of electric, water and natural gas utilities and trade associations that work with law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute scammers.

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