As people make their way through the winter season, utility companies want customers to be reminded about common utility scams. According to Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a growing number of gas, electricity, water and communications consumers are getting calls and visits from imposters out to steal personal and financial data.

A common con involves a caller posing as a utility billing representative claiming that you have an overdue bill, and in order to avoid immediate shut-off, you must provide a credit card number or prepaid debit card.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the median loss for a utility scam victim is $500.

All UUAS-affiliated utility employees carry photo identification. Field workers generally wear clothing with the company logo and drive company vehicles. When in doubt, do not allow them in - and if they persist, call 911.

UUAS utility representatives never demand instant payment in person or over the phone. Utility representatives from UUAS do not require the use of prepaid debit cards (such as Green Dot MoneyPak, MyVanilla or Reloadit). UUAS reps will never request customers meet them at a payment center, such as a department or grocery store, to make a payment.

The UUAS website provides more information on how to protect personal information, www.utilitiesunited.org.

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