• Know utilities don’t ask for pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers for payment and will provide ample time for customers to make a payment before service is terminated. Report the call immediately to your utility company if the caller requests one of these forms of payment. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card.
• Keep in mind it should be a red flag if callers are aggressive about needing a payment or your utilities will be shut off.
• Don’t be caught off guard and provide personal information (credit card and bank information, social security numbers). Many times, these scammers have a little bit of information about you and use it to persuade you to provide more personal information.
• Never allow anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
Utilities have also become a competitive industry and you have your choice of suppliers. If you’re considering making a switch in suppliers, follow PUCO’s four simple steps:
• Compare offers
• Contact suppliers and ask questions
• Read and understand the contract
• Receive confirmation.
You can report utility scams to your utility company, Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) and BBB. For more information on reliable utility businesses, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses and Business Profiles on ones you're considering. PUCO can also provide a list of competitive/regulated companies. The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel is also a good resource for utilities information.
John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.