Contact: Sgt. Robert Dochler
Public Relations Unit Supervisor
On 07/28/14 the City of Columbia Water and Light Department received multiple reports of a possible scam targeting City of Columbia utility customers. These calls were received over the weekend and on at least one report, the caller claimed to be an employee of the Columbia Water and Light Department. Once again customers are being told their account is delinquent and are asked to obtain a VISA card from a local pharmacy. A variety of call back numbers are being used and on one occasion an actual Columbia Water and Light Department number was used as a call back number. Most of the complaints received are from commercial accounts.
As a reminder, 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 utilities 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 email@example.com
Here are some safety tips:
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. 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. Make a phone call to verify the information. A thirty second phone call can save you money. 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?"Be skeptical - Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won't pressure you to make a snap decision. If someone comes to your home claiming to be with a utility company, ask for identification. Do not let the person in your home. If something doesn't seem right it's not right.
If you have information about, or want to report a fraud, report it to your local law enforcement agency.