It’s hard to ignore the threat of having your heat or electricity shut off, especially at this time of year.

Who Is It Targeting: Utility customers

What Is It: A scam that preys on the fear of losing phone service, power, and/or heat

What Are They After: The most heartless scammers of all have learned that threatening people with the loss of their utilities—especially in the winter months—can help them line their pockets, but one major utility service has uncovered a new twist that makes it even more realistic.

Alabama Power has announced that scammers are posing as representatives of the company, then targeting their customers and threatening to shut off the electricity for failure to pay their bills. The only way to prevent it is to make immediate payment with a credit card or a store gift card. Since most people don’t just have prepaid gift cards lying around, the scammers have set up a fake phone number. After the customer goes to the store to purchase the gift card, he is to call the number the “representative” provided, which leads to an answering machine that says something to the effect of, “Thank you for calling Alabama Power. If you are calling to pay your overdue bill, please provide the account number and PIN number from the back of your prepaid card.”

How Can You Avoid It:

  • If you ever receive notification that your account is past due, contact the company directly using a verified phone number that you’ve looked up yourself.
  • Do not rely on contact information the caller gave you, as it could lead to a fake number.
  • Utility companies will never require you to pay using a prepaid gift card.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the ITRC for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more current scams and alerts here.

For full details of this scam check out this article from