Contact: Kari Goodman
Tel: (573) 231-7116
Hannibal Board of Public Works Cautions Customers About Utility Scams
April 5, 2016 – Hannibal, MO – The Hannibal Board of Public Works advises customers to be alert for con artists who may impersonate utility workers and threaten a service disconnection unless a payment is made immediately.
“The change of seasons often brings a renewed cycle of utility-themed scams,” says Kari Goodman, Public Relations Coordinator for the Hannibal Board of Public Works. “Hannibal residents and businesses should be wary of any caller, email or visitor who threatens disconnection of utility service unless payment is made right then.”
In these scams, the person making contact may ask the targeted victim for a credit card number, to wire money directly, or go to a local store and purchase a reloadable debit or gift card used for phone or online payments. Calls from such swindlers are often received after hours or on weekends, outside of the utility’s usual business hours. Scammers may also use caller ID that spoofs the utility’s name, or impersonate voice recordings to appear to be from utilities and to persuade customers to make payments. Fraudulent callers may also tell you to call a phone number and give your credit, debit or prepaid card number.
The HBPW cautions customers with the following tips if they get a call, email, or personal visit from someone about your utility service:
- Never give out your Social Security Number, credit or debit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact or expected the call from the HBPW.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know — regardless of the situation. Once you wire money, you can’t get it back.
- Do not click links or call numbers that appear in unexpected emails or texts — especially those asking for account information. If you click on a link, your computer could become infected with malware, including viruses that may steal information or ruin a computer.
- Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, gas pipes or appliances. Always ask an HBPW employee for proper identification. All HBPW employees are required to carry their municipal ID with them when in the field.
HBPW employees are not allowed to take payments in the field.
If you think a fake utility bill collector or any other scammer has contacted you, report the contact:
- Notify the Hannibal Board of Public Works at (573) 221-8050.
- Call the Hannibal Police Department at (573) 221-0987.
- File a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division (online at https://www.consumer.ago.mo.gov/ or by phone at 1-800-392-8222.) Be ready to include in your complaint any notices received or caller ID numbers for the incoming call.
Download the Tip Sheet HERE.