A Windom area resident contacted the Citizen to report a scam involving a supposed “utilities rebate.”
The scammer called the resident and started off by saying, “You’ve been paying way too much for your utilities the past few weeks. Consequently, you are eligible for a $50 rebate check.”
The caller then instructed the resident to “press 1” on her telephone and she would be taken to a person who would handle the rebate transaction.
“I can tell you that my utilities provider handles things completely differently,” the scam call recipient said. “I can personally guarantee that this was not a call from my utility company.”
The woman did not press the number because she wasn’t sure of the potential problems she might encounter if she had done so.
We have since learned that the Federal Trade Commission has received multiple reports of similar scams. Here is what the FTC website has to say about this type of scam:
“In the unlikely event you really did pay more than you owed on your bill, utility companies don’t usually give cash refunds. Instead, they credit the extra money to your account. As for the future discount on your bill, not likely. At best, this could be a third-party service provider claiming you’ll save money if you switch to their service. But sometimes these services come with catches that could actually have you paying more on your bill — or even two bills at once: your utility company’s and the service provider’s.
So if you get one of these calls, here is what the FTC advises you do:
• Hang up. Don’t press any numbers or respond to any instructions. If you press or respond, you’ll probably wind up getting more unwanted calls like this.
• Never give the caller your Social Security number, account details, or…well, just don’t tell them anything. Scammers can use almost any information you give them to make a buck at your expense.
• Call your utility company, using the number on your bill. Tell them about the call and — if you still wonder— ask if the call was for real.
• If you want to consider using a third-party utility company, check with the utility regulatory agency in your state to understand your rights and how these companies are supposed to work.
• Tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint if you spot this or any other scams.
If you have been the target of a scam, your first contact should be the local authorities. Also, feel free to contact us with details (we can keep your name confidential, if you wish).
Send your story to: email@example.com, or call 507-831-3455. By sharing your story, you could prevent someone from being scammed.
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