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When being scammed, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a utility representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s service will be shut off if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card.

Scammers have even duplicated the upfront Interactive Voice Response system of some utilities, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate business. Some of these scammers also use caller ID “spoofing” to replicate a utility’s phone number.

Red flags for scam activity

  • The scammer often becomes angry and tells a customer his or her account is past due and service will be shut off if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
  • The scammer instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card – widely available at most retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the funds loaded to the card.

How to protect yourself

  • Utility representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail or in person.
  • Customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.

Don’t Get Scammed: You can avoid scams by taking a few precautions:

  • Never provide social security numbers or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than your local utility providers.
  • Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business.
  • When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to the door.

Anyone who believes he or she has been a target of a phone scam is urged to contact the Illinois Attorney General's office toll free at 1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013) or visit the Illinois Attorney General's web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov and click on the link "Protecting Consumers."

If you have a concern about the status of your account, you can contact:

  • ComEd 1-800-EDISON1
  • North Shore Gas 866-556-6004