A warning has been issued by Florida’s attorney general to alert consumers to a new scam involving callers posing as utility company employees who attempt to obtain credit and prepaid debit card information over the phone.
A report published online by the Herald Tribune details the scam in which, according to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, callers typically claim to be employees of Tampa Electric Company, Gulf Power Company, Duke Energy Florida Inc., Florida Power & Light Company, and “other Florida utilities.” The scammers then threaten to shut off consumers’ power and other essentials if they do not provide credit card or prepaid debit card information. Attorney General Bondi added that the scam callers will likely then use consumers’ information to make fraudulent purchases.
According to reports, this scam may be harder to spot than other types of phone fraud because some of the faux utility workers use a technique known as “caller ID spoofing,” where calls appear to be coming from the consumer’s actual utility provider.
According to the attorney general’s alert, real utility companies will never ask for or require a prepaid debit card for bill payments or call their customers in search of personal information. Furthermore, utility workers in the field always carry photo identification and never handle money when dealing with customers.
The attorney general is urging consumers to never provide any type of personal information over the phone, regardless of the caller. If you suspect a caller has tried to scam you, report the activity to your utility company, notify the police or file a complaint on the attorney general’s website or with the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.