Special to Iredell Free News

Hardly a week goes by that the Statesville City Customer Services office doesn’t hear from a utility customer who has received a phone call that turns out to be a scam.

In most of these scams, the customer is told that the City will disconnect their service unless they pay over the phone “right now,” but there are other schemes out there as well.

Don’t be a victim. Know how to deal with potential calls from scammers!

The City of Statesville is joining other utilities to bring awareness to these criminal scam tactics on the fifth annual Utility Scam Awareness Day on November 18. Utility Scam Awareness Day is part of the week-long International Scam Awareness Week, an advocacy and awareness campaign focused on educating customers and exposing the tactics used by scammers.

First and foremost, Statesville Customer Services wants you to know that no one from their office will ever demand a payment over the phone to avoid being disconnected. There is an automated system through which payments may be made by calling 704-878-3564; however, the payment can only be paid by credit card and is applied to the customer’s account.

The Customer Services office does not accept payments through a mobile app or prepaid debit card.

Also, the staff will not request personal information from the customer.

Often scammers demand money or personal information on the spot – usually with threatening language – and indicate that service will be disconnected immediately. Statesville does not do this.

All utility customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during contact with a scammer should contact the utility or law enforcement authorities.

Protect Yourself

Here are tips to protect yourself from falling victim to utility scams:

♦ Never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service interruption. Utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including online payments, phone payments, automatic bank drafts, mail, or in person.

♦ If someone threatens immediate service interruption, customers should be aware. Utilities will never notify of a disconnection in one hour or less.

♦ If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door.

♦ The utility should be contacted immediately at the number on the most recent monthly bill or on the utility’s official website, not the phone number the scammer provides.

♦ If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 9-1-1.

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