‘ Pay Up Or We’ll Shut Off Your Power’ – Scam Alert
It's been a big week for telephone scams involvng NorthWestern Energy. The fake calls have even gone to those who work for the power company. JoDee Black reported that the number of calls was at an all-time high. The caller tells the customer that power will be shut off unless they pay an outstanding bill...and, for the customer's "convenience," they can use a gift card, Bitcoin or some other type of payment.
Lori St. Aubin, Director of NorthWestern's Customer Care, said the company will never make such a call. Apparently, the scammers are using a method called "call-ID spoofing," where the I.D. appears the call is coming from the company, but the actual phone number is wrong. Scammers have even gone to customers' locations in person, with the same demands.
St. Aubin said NorthWestern will never come to someone's home to force a payment or threaten a shutoff for non-payment. They are not authorized to accept payments outside of the office. Any time a genuine NorthWestern employee comes to your place, they have an ID badge.
She said in a news release, "If you get a call or a text message like this, hang up right away. If you have any doubt about a caller, or suspect the call may be fraudulent, contact us using the phone number on your most recent bill, or avoid the call queue...and report it online." She said the company has worked with the FCC to shut down hundreds of numbers used by scammers.
Remember, you should never give out your personal information like Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information on the phone. And always suspect calls that demand immediate payment for anything. Hang up.