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Voice of the consumer: Scammers pose as utility employees during hot-weather months

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:48 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - So far this year, Colorado Springs Utilities says its customers have reported losing more than $5,500 to scammers. In most of these cases, Springs Utilities says customers were scammed over the phone.

“It breaks our hearts to hear customers have been taken advantage of,” said spokesman Jeff Rowbotham. “Scammers request pre-paid cards. Colorado Springs Utilities will never call and demand payment via pre-paid card, or any other channel.”

Springs Utilities said customers reported an average of 118 scams a month during the first half of 2021.

According to AARP, there are several different ways utility scams can play out. In one instance, someone claiming to be from your utility company might show up at your home and say they need to inspect or repair equipment. Never let someone into your house unless you’ve confirmed with the company that they’re there for a legitimate reason.

In another version, you might get a phone call, email or text message saying your account is past due and you must pay immediately or your service will be cut. In yet another ploy, you might get a call from someone claiming you overpaid your utility bill. As part of this scam, the person on the line will ask for your bank account information to provide a refund. In both of these cases, the scammer is trying to get money from you.

If you’re ever unsure whether the person at your door or on the phone is actually who they say they are, double check with your utility company. If you have Colorado Springs Utilities, call (719) 448-4800. If you don’t, look at your last utility bill to find the company’s phone number, and ask whether they sent someone to your home. You should also call your utility company if you believe someone is impersonating them, so they have a record of the instance. If you lose money to a scam, you should also report it to police.

Colorado Springs Utilities has a lot of great resources about common utility scams, red flags, and what to do to protect yourself. Learn more at csu.org/Pages/Scams.aspx.

Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 or visiting www.ReportFraud.FTC.gov. You can also report scams to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-222-4444 or visiting www.StopFraudColorado.gov.

I also want to remind you that Silver Key’s 50th Anniversary Engaged at Every Age gala is scheduled for this Saturday, Aug. 7 from 6 to 10 p.m. It will be a strolling soiree-style gala at the Boot Barn Hall near Voyager Parkway and North Gate Boulevard in Colorado Springs. Instead of a formal sit-down dinner and presentation, guests will get to explore several different entertainment and activity options.

Tickets cost $150 with all the money going toward the programs and services Silver Key provides for seniors in the Pikes Peak region. There will also be a virtual option where people can enjoy the gala experience at home for free. To buy tickets or sign up for the virtual experience, visit www.SilverKey.org/gala.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

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