Area Agency on Aging: Scams from fake utility companies

By Kay Kaylor
PREVIEW Columnist
I advocate for residents in extended care and assisted living residences as the region’s lead long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.
Two divisions of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies are warning about recent utility scams. In response to Gov. Jared Polis’ March 20 executive order, all Colorado electric and gas utilities have ceased disconnections during the pandemic. If a utility customer receives any call threatening an immediate shutoff, it is a scam. The fake utility caller or emailer will demand immediate payment by prepaid cards, credit/debit card, a bank draft or wiring money and will insist you respond. Utilities always offer a variety of ways to make payments and do not demand immediate payment. They never send a notice right before disconnecting.
An ongoing scam involves people posing as your local utility workers or contractors. They may knock on your door claiming to be employed or hired by the utility company to read, upgrade, reset, repair, replace or inspect your utility meter or other utility-related device. During virus social distancing orders, utilities are not sending employees to homes.
Scammers may also send emails that appear to be a bill sent by your utility company, potentially featuring its logo and color scheme. As always, do not click on links or attachments unless you have verified the sender. If you do, the scammer might direct you to a website to steal your personal information or install malware. Utilities do not send bills via email unless you have opted to receive it that way. Always check the email address; if you hit reply, you often can see the address is bogus. Also check whether the grammar and phrasing appear to be from a fluent English speaker.
If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud or who feel threatened, alert local law enforcement authorities immediately. More information is available from the Federal Trade Commission or the Colorado attorney general’s Consumer Protection section.
The San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call or text 403-2165, or send an email to leadombudsman@sjbaaa.org.

 

This story was posted on April 19, 2020.