Phone scammers posing as utility company staff are tricking people into giving them money via prepaid debit cards.
Here’s how the scam works:
You receive a threatening phone call claiming that you have not paid your electricity bill and power will be cut off to your home or business within minutes if you do not pay up immediately.
The phone scammer will claim that, because the bill is so late, the only way that you will be allowed to pay is via a Green Dot Card or another type of prepaid money card. Pre-paid debit cards can be bought or reloaded with new funds in many different retail locations. The cards let you send money over the phone by quoting a number on the card.
The scammer will instruct the victim to go out and purchase a card and then call back to make the payment. He or she will warn that, if you do not call back within a specified time frame – usually, just a few minutes -, your power supply will be disconnected.
When you purchase the card and call back, the scammer will ask for the number on the card. The money on the card will be transferred to the criminal who can withdraw the card funds as cash and disappear.
These phone scammers can be quite convincing and may use threats and bullying tactics to trick people into complying.
Utility companies may well call you to discuss an overdue bill, but they will offer legitimate payment options and will never claim that you may only pay using a pre-paid debit card.
How to Check if a Call is Legitimate
If you are concerned that a call might be legitimate, here’s how to check:
- Tell the caller you will contact the utility company about the supposed bill and hang up.
- Find a phone number for the utility company via a previous bill, phone directory, or online search. Do not use a phone number provided by the original caller.
- If the utility company has no knowledge of the caller or the supposed outstanding bill, then you will know that the call was a scam.
Green Dot phone scams are increasingly common. The overdue bill ruse is just one of many cover stories that the criminals may use.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!