HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – State officials are warning the public about phone scammers threatening to turn off your utilities.
It is a scary threat on a cold winter day, a phone call telling your light and heat are about to be turned off unless you send a gift card or transfer cash to the account they tell you. Officials are warning everyone, especially senior citizens, those scammers are likely going to know a lot about you.
“They’re trying to trick you into thinking that they are the utility company,” explained Attorney General William Tong (D-Connecticut). “That if you don’t pay them money, if you don’t send them gift cards, if you don’t wire them money, if you don’t pay cash, that they are going to cut off your utility service.”
Connecticut’s attorney general warning about a cold weather twist on an established scam. Someone telling you that you have to send money to them right away, or something bad will happen to you or your loved ones.
That is just the latest warning. The FBI is warning people about scammers spoofing FBI phone numbers, so it looks like a federal agent is calling you telling you your Social Security number has been suspended and demanding money to reinstate it.
The Better Business Bureau is warning about new software that lets scammers mimic someone’s voice. So it might sound like your boss left you a voicemail telling you to transfer money, but really it’s a scam.
A West Haven Justice of the Peace told News 8 about a phony check he got to perform a Valentine’s wedding. The scammer wanted him to deposit it and then write his own check to pay a phony photographer. He didn’t fall for it.
Officials in Hartford know the bad guys are getting more and more sophisticated, meaning it is getting harder and harder to tell it’s a scam.
“They may know your account number,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “They may know information about your address, about other things in your life, and so they seem more real and it’s even harder to realize that you’re being scammed.”
To keep from being scammed, double-check everything. Find the real number for the FBI, or call your boss and check before you transfer the money. The AARP offers help with scams.
When it comes to threats to your heat, there is a shutoff moratorium on right now, so your utility company is legally not allowed to turn off your heat during the cold winter months.