BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — North Dakota — and likewise, the rest of the United States — have seen a rise in utility scammers lately. Through mail, door-to-door, email, and phone communication, they attempt to trick hard-working citizens out of their money by pretending to be utility companies and demanding immediate payment from residents to avoid the disconnection of necessary services. The problem continues to grow as the years pass, and to help counter them, over 150 utility companies from across the United States and Canada are promoting ways to avoid these frauds as part of the Utilities United Against Scams organization — including Montana-Dakota Utilities.
While November 16th is specifically set aside as National Utility Scams Awareness Day, it also coincides with International Fraud Awareness Week — and as such, the two ideas are often woven together by utility companies into a week of raising the public’s knowledge of utility scams. Such is the case with MDU, who have begun posting strategies and advice on fending off scammers on their Facebook Page. And now, we’re compiling these tips into one handy article for you, in case more scammers decide to rear their lying heads.
#1: Door-To-Door Imposters- Door-to-Door scammers have been known to pose as utility workers in order to gain access to unsuspecting victims’ homes. Montana-Dakota utility representatives, and most utility company representatives in general, do not threaten the disconnection of services via door-to-door communication. Do not be afraid to shut the door on anyone claiming to be a utility representative if you have not received any notifications from the company or have not made any appointment for a technician to visit your home. Actual company personnel can be recognized by both their uniforms and identification.
#2: Suspicious Links- Scammers can disguise themselves using valid-looking phone numbers, graphics, emails, and more. Never click on any link or open any email attachment sent to you in a message that you seem to be suspicious, and do not provide any personal information in contact.
#3: Disconnection Deception- Scammers will often call your phone and threaten to disconnect your utilities, demanding immediate payment to avoid having your systems shut down. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has stated that they will never threaten same-day disconnect or demand immediate payment using prepaid cards.
If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of someone contacting you, MDU advises you to take the following actions:
- Log in to your account directly at the company’s website instead of clicking any email links.
- Call Montana-Dakota Utilities at 800-63-3278 to access their electronic account services to verify utility status and account balance. This service is available 24/7. Those calling the number