Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Businesses report phone scammers posing as city of I.F. representatives

Five Idaho Falls businesses called City Hall Tuesday to report they had received calls from people claiming to represent the city and threatening to shut off their utilities unless they paid allegedly overdue bills with a credit or debit card.

The city never calls anyone to demand immediate payment over the phone, said Lori Holverson,  Idaho Falls' collection adviser. “If you do receive a phone call requesting immediate utility payment, write down the phone number of the individual calling you and contact the Idaho Falls Police Department,” she said.    
The city offers a link with further information on how to avoid being scammed. Here are some key bullet points from it:
  • Ask for verification: IFP and Utilities employees rarely call residential customers. If they do, however, they will know the customer’s name and address, account number and account balance. If you suspect a scammer is on the other end of the line, hang up and call the Utilities office at 612-8280. 
  • Keep your information safe: Do not provide account information to any caller. No one from Idaho Falls Power or the city Utilities office will ever ask for account information. 
  • You always have options: A number of payment options are available to customers and the Utilities office can usually work out a payment arrangement for a customer who has fallen behind on his bill. 
  • Please report scam calls: If you receive a suspicious call, write down the phone number if you have Caller ID, hang up and call the police. 
If someone comes to your door: 
  • Did you have an appointment? IFP employees who conduct energy audits or other projects that require home visits always make appointments. Collections agents with the Utilities office often don’t have an appointment, but they drive city vehicles, wear marked clothing, carry ID and all pertinent account information, and will provide a receipt for any payment made. Meter readers will never collect payment. 
  • Check the vehicle: IFP and city Utilities employees drive white or yellow vehicles bearing the IFP logo or city logo. 
  • Ask to see ID: City employees always carry ID cards. 
  • Verify: To confirm the person at your door is an IFP or Utilities employee, ask them to wait outside and call either IFP at 612-8526 or the Utilities office at 612-8280.