Potential scammers confronted in Cleveland as Better Business Bureau issues new warnings

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Utility scams are on the rise, and the Better Business Bureau serving Greater Cleveland is warning people to be vigilant and skeptical of anyone asking for money or even personal information.

“What we’ve heard recently is door-to-door utility scams,” said Ericka Dilworth with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “We do tend to see this time of year when it starts to warm up, scams that involve door-to-door traffic.”

19 News recently encountered a pair of men going door-to-door in Cleveland’s Edgewater neighborhood. They claimed to work for a third-party supplier and asked to see individual energy bills, which contain sensitive information.

“You just don’t know what their end game is,” Dilworth said. “Whatever it is you’re giving is a piece to your identity.”

We reached out to the company they claimed to work for, but we could not verify whether or not they worked for the third party, which the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio lists as a licensed supplier.

As such, however, the company should have access to pertinent customer information.

When questioned by 19 News, one of the men became combative.

Regardless of their intentions, Dilworth said it’s a good idea to be skeptical and question anyone asking for personal information.

“You need to take a step back, take a deep breath and do a little homework,” she told 19 News.

Earlier this month, a Cleveland woman told the BBB that she was scammed out of $ 400 when a man convinced her she worked for her utility company.

Because she was already behind on her payments, she feared her electricity would be turned off.

BBB Serving Greater Cleveland is providing these tips for consumers who are looking to avoid becoming a victim of utility scams:

Be Skeptical

• If you receive a robocall, text message, or phone call from a utility company, be skeptical.

• Don’t verify personal information until you have verified the identity of the caller. Many utility companies have a policy not to ask for consumers’ social security or bank account numbers over the phone.

Don’t Panic

• Many scammers will try to induce panic in victims by claiming individuals are past due and power disconnect is imminent, sometimes with incredibly short timeframes. Verify your utility account status independently and outside of the phone call via copies of bills or online portals.

Call Back

• When in doubt, hang up and call utility companies back on numbers listed on official correspondence or websites.

• Don’t Let Workers in Without an Appointment

• Do not allow anyone claiming to be a utility employee into your home unless you scheduled an appointment beforehand. Always ask an employee for identification.

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