Ameren warning of scams targeting Galesburg residents

Ameren Illinois is warning that there has been a recent spike in scam attempts in the area.

Brian Bretsch from the utility company says that they’ve seen these attempts in Pekin and Galesburg over the last several days and as many as 75 customers have called Ameren’s 800-number and five customers were duped out of a total of $3,100.

According to Ameren’s Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Mary Heger, an increase in scams — including new and aggressive tactics that make it more difficult for customers to spot a scam, have been seen and customers should be on high alert for them. “Customers should especially be on high alert and should not download cash apps such Zelle to make immediate payments.”

Ameren offers several tips for spotting a scam:

  • Know the different forms of scams such as phone calls, text messages, in-person, and online tactics to target customers into providing personal information or payment.
  • Scammers often pose as Ameren Illinois employees, threatening to disconnect or shut off service if a customer fails to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable forms of payment.
  • They also often mask incoming calls as coming from Ameren Illinois on caller ID systems, and then give a different phone number to make a payment.
  • Fake case number and/or fake truck identification number: Scammers are known to record a voice message and use it to trick customers into thinking they’ve called the utility company. The scammer gives a fake case number and/or fake identification number of a company truck that is in the vicinity of the customer’s home.
  • Equipment or repair bogus fee: Scammers may call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter.
  • Overpayment trick: Scammers call claiming that you’ve overpaid your utility bill and need to provide personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.

The utility also is offering a number of tips to help protect yourself from a scammer.

  • Never give your credit card, debit card, social security, ATM, checking or saving account numbers to anyone who calls, sends a text message or email, or comes to your home requesting this information.
  • Don’t trust anyone asking for immediate payment. If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren Illinois employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000.
  • Never purchase a prepaid card or download a cash app to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill. Ameren customers can make payments online, by phone, electronic check, by mail or at in-person pay locations.
  • For more information, visit Ameren.com/stop-scams. Customers should also follow Ameren Illinois on social media to receive the latest updates on scams.
  • Sign up to manage your account online at Ameren.com where you can immediately check the status of your account.

“The best way to combat scams is to understand the tactics criminals use to trick people into giving up their personal information,” said Shirley Stennis, director of Customer Service, Ameren Illinois. “Scammers have become more sophisticated by masking phone numbers to appear that the call is from Ameren Illinois or by calling residential or business customers during busy times of the day in an effort to confuse their victims. Our customers can protect themselves by recognizing the scam schemes and reporting them to the appropriate authorities.”

 

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