ST. LOUIS — Ameren is warning customers in advance of the holidays not to fall for scammers who pose as utility company representatives.
For Utility Scam Awareness Day on Nov. 18, Ameren has joined utility companies worldwide for the fifth consecutive year to raise awareness and educate customers about scams.
"The best way to combat scams is to understand the tactics criminals use to trick customers into giving up personal information," said Ameren Security Supervisor Maria Gomez in a press release.
"Scammers have become more sophisticated by masking phone numbers to appear that the call is from Ameren or by calling residential or business customers during busy times of the day in an effort to confuse their victims. Customers can protect themselves by looking for and recognizing the scam schemes and reporting them to the appropriate authorities."
It's important to never give personal information to people who call, send a text message or come to your home requesting the information. That includes your credit card, debit car, social security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers.
Customers should never trust anyone asking for immediate payment. If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren employee, end the conversation immediately and notify Ameren Illinois at 1-800-755-5000 or Ameren Missouri at 1-800-552-7583.
Legitimate utility customers offer several ways to pay bills and will never ask customers to use a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Ameren customers can pay bills online, by phone, electronic check, by mail or in-person.
Customers can immediately check their account status by signing up to manage their account at Ameren.com.
Here are other ways Ameren said you can spot a scam:
- Know the different forms of scams such as phone calls, text messages, in-person, and online tactics to target customers into providing personal information or payment.
- Scammers often pose as Ameren employees, threatening to disconnect or shut off service if a customer fails to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable forms of payment.
- They also often mask incoming calls as coming from Ameren on caller ID systems, and then give a different phone number to make a payment.
- Scammers seize the opportunity to target customers during busy or high-anxiety times such as the holiday season, COVID-19 pandemic, or extreme weather.
- Fake case number and/or fake truck identification number: Scammers are known to record a voice message and use it to trick customers into thinking they've called the utility company. The scammer gives a fake case number and/or fake identification number of a company truck that is in the vicinity of the customer's home.
- Equipment or repair bogus fee: Scammers may call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter.
- Overpayment trick: Scammers call claiming that you've overpaid your utility bill and need to provide personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
- Advice or suggestion on the form of payment: loading an app, bitcoin, or locations of where to get cash cards.