BBB: Scammers threaten to turn lights off

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Better Business Bureau is warning people to be on the lookout for scammers pretending to be Consumers Energy to steal your money.

The scammers call businesses and tell them they have an overdue bill. They say if the owners don’t pay right away via a wire transfer or prepaid card, the power will be shut off. But the callers aren’t from the Jackson-based utility and the debts aren’t real.

The BBB Serving Western Michigan says it has seen a spike in such calls in the last couple of months. Twelve of those who fell victim in Kent County. Others were in Allegan and Kalamazoo counties. In all, businesses have been tricked into paying 76 times this year alone.

Troy Baker of the BBB says Consumers will never ask you for a last-minute payment over the phone.

“This is not how Consumers Energy operates,” Baker said. “If you have a billing issue with Consumers, you’re going to know. They send it by mail. You’ll have bills that show you have an outstanding balance. They’re never going to call you and threaten you. They’re never going to ask you for payment by wire or by prepaid card. So anytime you get a call from someone threatening to shut you off like that, it’s probably a scam.”

If you get a similar car or you’re not sure if a call is legitimate, hang up and call Consumers.

“What you really need to do is find your bill and call Consumers Energy at the phone number that’s on your bill. Don’t take the phone number that they give you on the phone. Use the one that’s on your bill to guarantee you’re talking to Consumers Energy,” Baker said.

If you do get scammed, report it to local police, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI and and the BBB’s Scam Tracker.

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