Connecticut’s consumer protection commissioner, along with the attorney general and many of the gas, water and electric utility companies, warned people on Friday about utility scams.
“If someone ever contacts you and says that there's no time to stop and think, it's usually the best time to do so,” said Dan Doyle, the manager of corporate communications for the Regional Water Authority.
Authorities said bad actors will often pose as a utility company employee and threaten to turn off your gas, water or electric if you do not pay immediately.
William Tong, Connecticut’s attorney general, said that is a clear sign someone is trying to take advantage because utility companies are not allowed to do that.
“They're not going to ask you to pay that money right away under threat of shutting off your utility service. They can't do that under the law," Tong said.
AARP did a study surveying people as young as 18, according to the state director for AARP Connecticut. It revealed that 6,000 people reported being scammed in Connecticut in 2019. In all, those people lost $13.8 million.
"There's so much information available now out there on the internet that they'll call you up and they'll know information. They may know your account number or information about your address or other things in your life. So they seem more real and it's even harder to recognize you're being scammed," said Michelle Seagull, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection.
If you get a phone call, email or text from someone you don’t think is legitimate, Seagull recommends you hang up the phone.
“Take a step back and do your research. If you are concerned you haven't paid your bills, look at one of your bills, find the real phone number for your utility company, call them up and find out the status of your account," said Seagull.
Seagull and Tong both advise against giving out personal information.
Call the attorney general’s office to file a claim if you have been scammed at 860-808-5318.
If you are falling behind paying your utility bill, the chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority recommends you call your utility and ask about hardship protections.