FTC warns of utility scammers during Ohio’s winter season

The utility scam targets residents during extreme cold weather
Updated: Jan. 23, 2020 at 4:23 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Are freezing cold temperatures causing you to turn up the heat inside your home? If you do, pay close attention to those energy bills and watch out for utility scammers.

Scammers are also watching the weather, and cold-calling consumers claiming you have an unpaid bill and you need to pay it immediately.

They'll ask you to pay with a gift card or wire transfer.

In 2018, the FTC received nearly 22,000 reports of utility-related theft.

So far this year in Ohio, there have been more than 50 reports to the BBB.

Here's what you need to look out for:

  • An unscheduled visit or unsolicited call from someone claiming to represent your power or water company.
  • Threats to cut off service unless an overdue bill or maintenance cost is paid immediately.
  • A demand for payment
  • You see payments on credit card or bank statements for utility accounts you did not open.

The federal government’s program called Energy Star has a full checklist of ways that will actually help you save money on your heating bills.

Click here for more information.

You can report this type of scam to the FTC or by calling the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad at 216-443-SCAM.

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