JACKSON, Mich., May 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy is continuing to warn Michigan residents to be on guard against telephone scams that demand people immediately pay energy bills using prepaid credit cards.
"We continue working to raise awareness among business owners, residents and Consumers Energy customers that these scams, plain and simple, are designed to rob you of your money," said Michael Williams, director of corporate security for Consumers Energy.
More than 300 incidents have been reported this year in which callers have falsely claimed to represent Consumers Energy, and some were reported as recently as last week in Adrian and Muskegon. In both cases, business owners did not pay and instead contacted Consumers Energy to ask about their accounts.
Reports of these scams have come from Consumers Energy customers across the state beginning in mid-2013. Kent County reported the most incidents year to date with 71, followed by 31 in Genesee and 31 in Lenawee. Reports of scams have originated in more than 40 counties.
A typical scam usually involves a caller, who can speak English and Spanish, aggressively demanding payment for a Consumers Energy bill within an hour. The person is told to purchase a Green Dot prepaid credit card, or another specific card, then directed to call an 866 toll-free phone number to pay their bill using these cards.
"Consumers Energy has been actively working with local, state and federal authorities to try to break this crime ring, which appears to be originating from outside the United States," Williams said. "Our goal is to build awareness so that no one is cheated out of their money."
Consumers Energy offers the following tips to customers to help avoid scams:
- Consumers Energy never demands payment over the phone using only a specific card.
- Customers should never give money or personal information such as account and credit card information over the phone to anyone they don't know.
- Customers are encouraged to share information about this scam with friends, family and neighbors to help prevent additional victims.
- Residential or business customers who believe they may have been victims of this scam or who have related concerns should call their local law enforcement agency and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.
Tips on avoiding utility fraud and other scams are available on the Michigan Public Service Commission's website: www.michigan.gov/documents/mpsc/mpsc-ca_utilityservicefraud_211946_7.pdf.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
WAYS TO PAY: Consumers Energy offers a variety of payment options:
- A secure Internet site
- U.S. mail
- In person at an authorized pay agent location
- By Visa, Mastercard or eCheck using an authorized Consumers Energy EasyPay agent
LEARN MORE: ConsumersEnergy.com/waystopay
- Utility Industry
- Financial Fraud Prevention
- Consumers Energy