Thursday, May 4, 2017

Scammers Demanding Money, Threatening to Cut Utilities

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 10:44 AM

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Scammers have been posing as Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) employees, phoning customers, demanding immediate payment, while threatening to cut off utilities if the customer does not comply.

Over the past few days, the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South (BBB) has received reports from two businesses claiming to have gotten a suspicious phone call.

One, an automotive shop owner in Cordova says a caller demanded she drop off a large sum of money to a specific location, claiming that MLGW could not process the bank drafts she had already sent in.

In another instance, a scammer called the owner of Tinder Box in Collierville and instructed that he submit his overdue payment in the form of gift cards. The owner initially bit the bait, but knew something was fishy when the caller began asking for additional money.

The scammers will often call in the peak of business hours, attempting to catch businesses off guard and tripping them into handing over payments.

MLGW officials says the actions of the scammers are inconsistent with the way the utility handles unpaid balances.

"At MLGW, we never demand payment or threaten to cut off services over the telephone," MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins Jr. said. "We certainly never tell any customers to buy prepaid debit cards or gifts cards. We always mail cut-off notices to customers. We also use auto-dialers that alert you in advance when a payment is due to avoid cut-off."

MLGW and BBB advise customers not to fall for these scams by being suspicious of callers demanding for immediate payment in a specific form. The utility cautions customers not to give out personal or financial information, including money wiring, over the phone to an unsolicited caller.

BBB urges anyone who has been targeted by this scam to share details on the Bureau's scam tracker.

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