Outsmart Utility Scammers
When a caller threatens to turn off your gas or electric service because of a past-due bill, you’ll pay attention. That's the goal of telephone fraudsters! Impersonating utility employees, they rush businesses into taking action before their targets have time to think about what’s happening.
Imposter utility scams have been growing. For the first six months of 2019, more than 1,100 MGE customers have reported being contacted by fraudsters. That's more than double the number of reports for the same period in 2018, and it includes businesses of all types and sizes. Recently, one MGE business customer unknowingly handed $800 to a scammer.
“Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods—going to great lengths to make customers believe they are talking to MGE,” said Bob Connor, Director - Commercial and Industrial Marketing.
New scam tactics include:
- Spoofing caller ID so when scammers make a call, the potential victim will see “MGE” on the phone display.
- Recording content from MGE’s Interactive Voice Response system. Scammers can then imitate MGE’s voice-recorded greeting and menu messages.
“Fraudsters are using technology to their advantage,” added Connor. “They work hard to make calls seem real from a customer’s perspective—even transferring you to someone pretending to be their manager.”
Utility scammers are most active in winter and summer when businesses need heat or air-conditioning.
Is it a scam?
Scammers can be very convincing, often duping savvy businesses. Remember, when a caller wants you to send money quickly and in a very specific way, it is probably a scam. Here are more red flags:
- MGE does not accept gift cards or require businesses to purchase prepaid debit cards to pay their bill. Never wire money to pay your bill.
- MGE provides past-due notification in writing before shutting off service for nonpayment.
- MGE will not ask for money to replace or work on your meter.
Suspect a call is fraudulent? Hang up and call MGE at (608) 252-7222.