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MPSC warns of a new phone scam

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Officials are warning the public about a new phone scam targeting utility customers. The Michigan Public Service Commission is urging people to be on the alert as incidents of scammers posing as gas and electric companies are on the rise.

The way the con works is this: The scammers manipulate one’s caller ID to make it seem as though a utility company is making the call. The fake bill collector on the other end then threatens to shut-off their gas or power if payment isn’t immediately made.   

Matt Helms is the Michigan Public Service Commission’s public information officer. He says there are a number of indicators that a call is a scam.

“Well just remember the utility companies are not going to call you and bully you over the phone to make a payment,” Helms said. “If you’re behind you will know it; you will have received notice through your bills. If you get one of these calls, hang up and call your utility right away.”

Helms adds that customers should be wary of calls that demanding payment immediately or via gift cards or Bitcoin. He says the MPSC has received an increased number of complaints about incidences of scams targeting vulnerable residential customers, such as seniors, as well as schools.

People who have mistakenly provided sensitive information should contact their local police department. This rise in complaints of fraudulent calls happens to coincide with Utility Scam Awareness Week, which is November 17 – 23.  

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