It’s never a good time to have your utilities shut off. But during the hot summer months, the threat of having no power can be especially miserable: no AC, no refrigerator, not even a fan. Scammers know this and will try to trick you into sending them money to keep your electricity on. But there are ways to spot the scammers.
The latest twist on utility scams is asking you to pay in Bitcoin or another type of cryptocurrency. The scam goes like this: you get a call or text from someone pretending to be your utility company. The caller or text says you owe money (which is a lie). The scammers then send you a text—sometimes including your utility company’s logo— with a QR code and tell you to scan it at a Bitcoin ATM to make a payment or your service will be disconnected. Stop!
No utility company will text you about a shut-off, and no utility company will demand payment in cryptocurrency. Those are scams. And before it shuts off service, all real utility companies will notify you in writing and offer a repayment plan. So, if you get one of those texts:
- Know that only scammers demand payment in cryptocurrency. Real utility companies won’t demand payment by Bitcoin, gift cards, or money transfer through a company like MoneyGram or Western Union. Only scammers do.
- Contact the utility company directly. Use the number on your bill or on the company’s website if you’re worried about an amount due, or to tell them about the text.
- Know your options. If you’re behind on utility bills, there are ways to make your payments more affordable, including setting up payment arrangements, budget billing, and ways to reduce your usage.