Contact: Officer Latisha Stroer, Public Information Officer
Columbia Police Department
A new nationwide utility bill scam hit Columbia today when four customers reported receiving a suspicious call. The caller identified themselves as a utility company employee and told the customers that their delinquent account was going to be disconnected unless it was paid right away. Luckily the customers did not make payments over the phone and called the City of Columbia Finance Department to check on their account status.
The City of Columbia bills are due 20 days after the date listed on the utility bill. The customers are notified of delinquent bills through a mailed notice and then a phone call is placed by an automatic system two days before the utilites are turned off. City of Columbia staff members are not allowed to take any payments over the phone. Customers can use the automated phone service to pay their bills or pay through the web site. If customers have a question about a bill, the billing office can be reached at (573)874-7380 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some safety tips:
1.) Never send cash or money orders or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
2.) If you call the number back that called you to verify the information and a recording picks up not stating the name of the company this is a scam.
3.) Make a phone call to verify the information. A thirty second phone call can save you money.
4.) Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. "What guarantee do I have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?"
5.) Be skeptical - Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won't pressure you to make a snap decision.
6.) If someone comes to your home claiming to be with a utility company, ask for identification. Do Not let the person in your home.
7.) If something doesn't seem right it's not right.
If you have information about a fraud, report it to a law enforcement agency.