Austin Energy, a public utility that supplies electricity to the city of Austin, Texas and the surrounding area, issued on February 22 warning in which she revealed that strangers have falsified her and are threatening them customers on the phone that they will be cut off from electricity if they do not pay alleged arrears accounts. As part of this scam, scammers warn customers that their utilities will be disconnected if they do not make immediate payments, usually using a rechargeable prepaid debit card or other undetectable payment method.
Austin Energy stated in its warning the following: "The scammers are trying to take advantage of our customers after the winter storm, telling them that their electricity will be cut off within 30-60 minutes if no immediate payment is made. We have not cut the electricity and we have not done it since March 2020. "
In addition, Austin Energy stressed that it would never call its home customers to inform them of urgent deadlines, request credit or bank transfer information, or ask them to pay late bills using undetectable payment methods, such as the cryptobodies or gift cards.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also warned on Feb. 22 about scammers taking advantage of current extreme weather to steal money and personal data from the company's customers.
According to BleepingComputer, in order to identify and protect themselves from such fraud attempts, Austin Energy customers are advised to take the following steps:
- If you receive a call, thank the caller and hang up. Never dial a voicemail number, text or e-mail. Instead, contact the utility company directly using the number in your account or account. website the company's. Verify if the message came from them.
- If you receive a call suddenly and the caller claims that you need to pay a bill due to services never give out banking information over the phone. To pay your bill by phone, always call a number that you know is legal.
- Utilities do not request payment information by email, message or phone. They will also not force you to pay by phone, telling you that this is the only option you have.
- If the caller tells you to pay with a gift card, cash refill card, money transfer or cryptocurrency, it is scam. Every time. Whatever he says.
This warning comes after multiple power outages across Texas, following a winter storm which led to the collapse of the state electricity grid and water systems.
However, while Texas power plants are now connected to Internet, more than 300.000 households are still living in the dark and cold, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on February 21.