Live 5 Scambusters: Dominion Energy says utility scams surge again

VIDEO: Live 5 Scambusters: Dominion Energy says utility scams surge again

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The paychecks may have stopped coming for a while but the bills haven’t and that could make you a prime target for a familiar scam.

Dominion Energy says scam calls have spiked recently. Scammers call pretending to be with the power company and threaten to cut your power. It typically starts with a voicemail claiming a disconnection order because you haven’t paid your bill.

“He answered ‘Dominion Energy’ and proceeded to tell her she was behind for not paying,” Ernie Drews said.

Drews said his wife got the voicemail and called to find out more and says the man on the other end told her the power would be cut within the next 30 minutes unless she paid the bill. When she disputed it, the scammer claimed she’d received two letters warning of the disconnection. He offered a solution to settle the debt over the phone.

“Finally he says you can resolve this by going to a Walmart, Dollar General or CVS and purchasing a gift card to pay for it,” Drews said.

While she remained on the phone, Drews called Dominion Energy and confirmed this was a scam. He then called the scammer back to confront him.

“I told him he cannot disconnect because of payment so of course I got disconnected on that one,” Drews said. “Amazingly, my service is still on a week later.”

Dominion Energy has suspended all disconnects during the COVID-19 pandemic and warned customers about these utility scams in April. Dominion Energy says the following are key signs of a utility scam:

  • Dominion Energy does not call customers and threaten to disconnect natural gas or electric service if the customer does not make a payment immediately.
  • Dominion Energy will never demand payment with a credit or debit card by phone, or ask you to buy a prepaid card, wire a transfer, or send a money order to pay your bill.
  • Utility scammers will target small businesses and threaten service disconnection during peak business hours to instill fear and a sense of urgency.
  • Utility scammers will spoof the caller ID so it appears the call is coming from a local number.
  • Not all scammers are aggressive. Some scammers find success in being personable and sympathetic.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.