COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.
The scammers are not taking a break during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, Colorado is warning about a rise in utility scams. The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) wants to make sure you don’t fall for the new schemes.
First and foremost, you should know that in response to Gov. Jared Polis’ order, all Colorado electric and gas utility companies have stopped disconnections. If you get a call saying they are going to shut off your services, it’s a scam. The caller says you haven’t paid your bill or you need to make a payment right away. A lot of times they will ask you to pay using gift cards, which should always be a big red flag. If you are worried you owe money on your account, hang up the phone and call your utility company using a trusted phone number.
The second scam we are seeing is imposters posing as utility workers showing up at your door. DORA said the scammers claim to work for your utility company or say they were hired by the company to read, upgrade, reset, repair, replace or inspect your utility meter. It’s really important to note that right now, utility companies are not sending employees into homes to read meters, in an effort to promote social distancing. If someone shows up at your door, it’s probably a scam. Fountain Utilities put out a warning recently after receiving several reports of imposters showing up at customers’ homes. You can always ask for their name and ID number and verify their identity with your utility provider.
Finally, make sure to keep an eye out for bogus bills. DORA said scammers are sending suspicious emails that look like they were sent from your utility company. Sometimes they even have your company’s logo or color scheme. Do not click any links or open any attachments, unless you know for sure who sent it to you. It might take you to a fraudulent website where they try to steal your personal or financial information.
If you lose money to a scam, you should also report it to your local law enforcement agency. You can report scams, fraud, and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at 800-222-4444.
I also want to share some resources during this time because I know a lot of you may have questions or concerns related to the coronavirus. There is a statewide call line for general questions about COVID-19 at 303-389-1687. El Paso and Teller counties' residents can also call our local call center at 719-575-8888.
If you are looking for resources, you can always call Pikes Peak United Way at 211. If you need to file for unemployment, you can do so at colorado.gov/unemployment or call the Department of Labor at 303-318-8000. If you are looking for more information from the state, make sure to check out covid19.colorado.gov.
I know these are trying times, but we will get through them together. Stay well and keep your loved ones aware of the many scams that are going around right now.
Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.