Fight the Phish and Avoid Utility Scammers
Scammers will look for any opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting people. This Consumer Safety Month, use these tips to avoid phishing scams, especially ones masquerading as your natural gas utility.
Be Careful Sharing Personal Information Via Phone or Email
Scammers may use tactics to get you to share personal information via phone. Utility scammers in particular may call or email and say that you are at risk of having service cut off immediately if you don’t pay your bill, using urgency to confuse you.
If your utility leaves you a message or contacts you by phone, it will typically ask to speak to the person whose name is listed on the account. Your utility may ask you to verify personal information to confirm your identity for your protection. Never proactively give out information or provide any payment type to anyone claiming to represent your utility. Your utility will have your relevant personal and account information.
Natural gas utilities may sometimes call customers whose bills are in arrears, or have not yet been paid to remind them that a payment is due; however, a legitimate utility representative will explain how a payment can be made using the utility’s established payment options instead of demanding payment over the phone or at a particular physical location.
Avoid Clicking on Links in Unsolicited Emails
Scammers often use email to convince you to click on a link or open an attachment that infects your computer with malware and viruses to steal personal and financial information. Phishing emails may appear to come from a financial institution, e-commerce site, government agency, or any other service, business, or individual, including your natural gas utility. The email may also request personal information such as account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers. Your natural gas utility will never ask you to confirm sensitive information over email.
Follow tips in our Cybersecurity Tips for Any Workspace blog to help you spot the phish and avoid phishing emails. You can also download the Phishing Tip Sheet from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency for more information. Similar to links, also be wary of email attachments you don’t recognize that can also infect your devices.
Use Trusted Websites for the Most Up-to-Date Information
If you aren’t sure about information provided in a suspicious call or email, use trusted websites to check. This could include official government resources or when it comes to your natural gas bill, your utility. Your utility is the best resource to help you avoid energy bill scams.
To report phishing attempts or to report that you’ve been a victim, visit www.ic3.gov to file a complaint.