Phone scammers are threatening to shut off utilities, AG Nessel warns

The new white iPhone 4 is displayed at the Apple store April 28, 2011 in Palo Alto, California. (WWMT/David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Attorney General Dana Nessel warned of phone scammers posing as utility companies to defraud people of money.

Officials from Nessel's office said Nov. 16, 2020, that the Michigan Public Service Commission typically sees a rise in complaints this time of year. Scammers threaten to shut off utility services if customers don't take immediate actions including making payments with gift cards, Bitcoin or other forms of payment.

Sometimes, scammers could manipulate caller ID to make it appear as if a utility company was making a call, commonly referred to as caller ID spoofing, state officials said.

Officials with Nessel's office said utility companies would not:

  • Endorse or require a prepaid debit card, gift card, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency for payments
  • Collect payment at customers’ homes or businesses
  • Ask for Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information by phone

Nessel said if a resident has any doubt about a call, they should contact their utility company using the phone number on their most recent bill and ask to speak to a customer service representative.

She said complaints can also be filed online.