10/20/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/20/2021 15:42
"Fraudsters who engage in utility imposter scams, such as those affecting NV Energy customers, know that establishing fear of having one's electricity shut off is a critical part of executing their scam," said AG Ford. "Once the scammer has convinced the customer they are calling from the utility company, the scammer convinces the person his or her electricity will be shut off unless the person sends them money immediately."
Utility imposter scammers use a variety of tactics in their scams to defraud consumers. The scammer may robocall you or disguise their caller ID to appear as though the call is from a legitimate utility, like NV Energy. Once you are speaking with the scammer, they may provide you with a fake employee ID number and may even have some personal information about you, such as your address. Most often, the scammer will then threaten to disconnect your service if you do not make a payment immediately. The scammer usually demands payment in the form of prepaid debit card, credit card, gift card or digital currency.
A new sophisticated twist on the scam involves the scammers' use of QR codes. A scammer will text a QR code to the utility customer with instruction to use this code at a local bill pay kiosk to pay their utility bill. The QR code is linked to the scammer's account, not the utility's account, and the consumer's payment goes directly to the scammer.
The Office of the Nevada Attorney General suggests the following tips to help protect yourself and your loved ones from utility imposter scams:
Ask questions and obtain the caller's employer ID. Hang up and call the utility back at the number located on your utility bill;
Ask for your full account number. A legitimate employee will generally be able to provide a full account number to you - not simply a few digits. Addresses are easy to find through a simple internet search; just because someone has your correct address does not mean that the caller is legitimate;
Don't feel pressured to make a payment out of fear or intimidation. Scammers will often call on Fridays or before holiday weekends to incite panic that you will not have electricity for the weekend;
A legitimate utility or telecommunication company will never demand payment over the phone, via text or in person to avoid the disconnection of services. A utility and telecommunication service will not disconnect service without prior written notice; and
Do not provide personal information to the scammer, including social security numbers, passwords, PINs or payment information.
If you have been a victim of a utility imposter scam, report it to the utility company. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commissionand the Office of the Nevada Attorney General. You can also file a police report with local law enforcement, particularly if you had physical interaction with the scammer. Include as much information as possible with your complaint, including phone numbers, QR codes and transaction receipt information.