Scammers have been targeting Midwest Energy customers, calling them and telling them that their electric or gas account is past due and service will be shut off within 30 minutes unless payment is made via a reloadable money card, or by credit or debit card.
Some customers have been cheated out of hundreds, or even thousands of dollars by these slick-talking scammers.
“They come across as very professional, and they might have the first two or three numbers of your account and manipulate the customer into giving them the remaining digits,” said Michael Sadeghi, Midwest Energy’s Director of Customer Service. “They might get the customer to reveal information about their last payment amount, and then say something like the last amount didn’t clear or was rejected by the bank,” Sadeghi said.
Scammers have been known to use “spoofing” software; even though they may be calling from several states away, the caller ID might show “Midwest Energy” with a local office number or the company’s 1-800 number.
“These scammers are very good at what they do,” Sadeghi said. “Some very savvy business owners have been victims of this scam. The scammers are very good at ratcheting up the pressure during the call, creating a sense of urgency to where the victim feels they have no choice but to comply.”
Sadeghi said that any customer who gets a call from someone claiming to be Midwest Energy should get the caller’s name and number, hang up and then call Midwest Energy at 1-800-222-3121 to verify the information.
Sadeghi added that normal disconnection procedures typically take place over several weeks, beginning with a letter. This is followed up by a phone call during normal business hours. Only after these two contacts is a meter disconnected. He added that Midwest Energy would never demand payment by money card. “How a customer chooses to pay is up to him or her,” he advised. “We would never dictate a payment method.”