Ameren Illinois is alerting customers to what a company spokesman describes as “the holiday scam.”
Communications Executive Brian Bretsch said seven customers, mostly businesses, in Alton, Bethalto and Godfrey were targeted Tuesday by scammers, along with 15 customers in Illinois and 65 in Missouri.
“It’s been kind of a big day for scam artists,” he said.
Scammers call customers and tell them they’re behind on their utility bills and have 45 minutes to 2 hours to make a payment or have their utilities disconnected. The scammers ask customers to make the payment on a Green Dot prepaid credit card.
The calls are random; the scammers don’t know if customers’ bills are in arrears and are hoping to catch distracted employees during the holidays. The vast majority of customers targeted are not behind on their bills, Bretsch said.
“They’re trying to prey upon people who don’t have time to think,” he said.
Bretsch said Ameren does not call customers to ask for immediate payments.
“There’s some red flags for customers,” he said.
Ameren asks customers to take down the number scammers tell them to call back, usually a bogus toll-free number, then immediately call the Ameren customer service hotline at 1-800-755-5000. Customers can find out if they’ve fallen behind on their bills and Ameren can file a report with its scam team.
In addition to contacting Ameren, customers who made a payment to scammers should call their local police department.
What we do
- Offer various payment options.
- Take payments over the phone using third-party vendor Western Union Speedpay.
- Notify you prior to a disconnection through mail, text and email alerts. Field representatives may also contact you by phone or in person to inform you of a disconnection.
- Work with vendors to conduct surveys on our behalf.
- Mail (or email) information periodically to increase awareness of new programs, products and services that may affect your account.
- Initiate payment arrangements by phone with an Ameren representative.
What we do not do
- Send emails that include attachments, unless you’ve contacted us to specifically request the information.
- Contact you to offer gift cards or other promotional items.
- Demand personal, account or financial information for immediate payment.
- Come to your home without a scheduled appointment for reported outages or gas leak orders.
We never demand personal, account or financial information for immediate payment.
We never demand or accept payments at a customer’s home or business.
We never send emails that include attachments, unless you’ve contacted us to specifically request the information.
NEVER give cash, purchase a pre-paid credit card or share credit card numbers with someone who is threatening to disconnect your power claiming your utility bill is unpaid.
NEVER let anyone into your home claiming to be from the utility unless they show proper Ameren badge identification. (Logo on a shirt does not qualify.)
NEVER open attachments unless you’ve contacted your utility for information.