There's a knock at your door. There stands someone claiming they're from a utility company saying they're going to turn off service if you don't pay a past due amount right now. They give you a phone number to call the billing office.

Or someone who claims the electric meter is not working and has to be replaced at the homeowner's expense immediately.

Or someone shows up unexpectedly and claims they need to get access to the meter inside the home to make repairs or an energy audit.

If your spidey senses are going off, good. They should. All three scenarios are likely scam artists trying to get to your wallet or into your home to steal from you.

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The Better Business Bureau has been seeing a lot of these kinds of scams. But they say they see more of them in extreme cold or extreme heat when people really depend on their heat or air conditioning. And as it gets warmer, summer utility scams are heating up.

The BBB says scammers will show up in legitimate looking uniforms, threatening deactivation of services if the homeowner doesn't pay up on the spot.


Here are some ways you can spot scammers and protect yourself.

Aren't expecting someone at your door?

Don't let them in if you didn't schedule an appointment with your utility. Real utility employees will NOT just show up and demand to get in your house. And demand to see proper identification and be very skeptical. Remember, if it doesn't smell right, it's probably fishy.


Trust your instincts.

If you have someone at your door or on the phone demanding immediate action, go grab a recent bill or look up the utility's number on your own and call customer service. Remember, scammers are clever -- never use the phone number they provide. Many times, that number is for another con-artist in on the scam.


Pressured to pay immediately?

Don't pay. Legitimate utilities won't show up or call you and pressure you to pay within a very short period of time, or else. Scammers will use high-pressure tactics to get your personal or banking information. And if they ask you to pay the bill with a prepaid debit card, gift card, digital wallet app or wire transfer, you're being scammed. Legitimate companies will not ask you for a weird payment option and will often take a check or credit card.

READ MORE:  BBB Scam Alert: Utility impostor scam


You can read more about imposter scams from the BBB. You can report a scam at the BBB Scam Tracker. And find out how to protect yourself by reading the BBB's 10 Steps to Avoid Scams.

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