Beware of a phone scam going around where fraudsters are demanding potential victims purchase a gift card or be subject to having their utilities shut off. For example, people have recently reported that they received a call from someone posing to be from a utility company such as Central Maine Power (CMP). The caller ID on their phone will say CMP. The scammer tells the victim that the utility company needs to change the meters on their home because they are out of date and a fire hazard. In order for the meters to be replaced, the victim is required to purchase a gift card or a money pack in order to cover the cost of replacing them. If the victim were to refuse to pay for the gift card over the phone, they are threatened that their power will be turned off.
It’s important to note that once a gift card has been purchased and provided to the fraudster, it can’t be disputed as fraud. So, unfortunately, the victim is liable for the loss of funds.
Beware of urgent calls like this. When it’s a demand that you pay in a very short period of time and the request is for a specific form of payment (for example an Amazon gift card), you should be wary and on your guard. Utility companies will typically send a reminder letter when changes are needed with their accounts. The real utility company already has your billing info and a way to send you a charge. There would never be a reason to purchase anything from them over the phone.
If this or, something similar happens to you, hang up and call the utility company directly. If you think you may have been the victim of a scam, call Member Care at 1-800-464-0253. We’ll do our best to help you straighten it out.