The Effingham Police Department alerted residents yesterday of an ongoing IRS Phone Scam in the area. Since then the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has warned residents of a utility bill scam.
The ICC reminds utility customers in Illinois to beware of a scam in which someone claiming to be a utility employee asks for immediate payment of a bill either at a customer’s door, over the telephone or by email. The ICC has received complaints from utility customers about scam artists claiming to be utility representatives, telling customers that their service will be disconnected unless payment is immediately made directly to the scammers. The scam artist may direct the consumer to purchase a prepaid credit card, a “Cash Card,” and to call them back with the personal identification number (PIN). The stories can vary, for example, with the scammer saying that the customer’s billing cycle has changed and payment must be made immediately, that the account is past due and payment can be made to them directly to avoid disconnection of the utility service, or the customer’s previous payment was rejected or never received. The scam has affected customers throughout the state, but a spike was recently noted for Ameren Illinois customers.
If you suspect you have been scammed, have a suspicious incident to report or have questions, contact the ICC’s Consumer Services Division at 1-800-524-0795. You may also contact Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-386-5438 or file a complaint on her website at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.