Electricity Shutoff Scam Threatens Central Kentucky Businesses

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From today’s press release from the BBB:

Better Business Bureau® serving Central & Eastern Kentucky hasheard from local businesses this week that received calls from scammers posing as Kentucky Utilities, threatening that their power would be shut off immediately if they did not pay their bill by phone right away. These businesses also said that when they called back numbers left by the scammers, the voice greeting sounded exactly the same as the real Kentucky Utilities greeting.

A Lexington liquor store owner said the call came over the weekend. He said the caller was “sending a technician in 30 minutes to shut off the power” if he didn’t pay over the phone. The owner knew he had no outstanding electric bill, called Kentucky Utilities at the number in phone directory and was assured he was paid up in full.

A Lexington equestrian farm office manager also received the call. The farm was also threatened with power shut-off in 30 minutes unless payment was made immediately by phone. The manager had trouble understanding the caller, and the caller hung up on her when she said they had already paid. She called back the number given and heard a voice greeting just like the message that plays when calling the real Kentucky Utilities. She called the number for the real Kentucky Utilities, who told her it was a scam call and the business owed no bills.

“This phone scam can be alarming to a business owner who relies on the electricity being on in order to stay open and serve customers,” said Heather Clary, Director of Communications. “Con artists count on the person who answers the phone panicking and agreeing to whatever they are told to do in order to keep the lights on. However, it’s always a sign of a scam when you are urged to pay right away, especially if you are told to do so with a re-loadable card, like Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes cards.”

A page warning about scams on KU’s website states: “We will NEVER call you to demand payment or ask for a credit/debit card number or any other personal identification. If you ever get a call threatening to shut off your power if you don’t provide that information, it’s a scam.”