Scammers are back at it, threatening to shut off your power if you don’t pay you’re bill.

It happened recently in both the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas.

Sheri Beth Schafer says the scammers are very convincing. Someone called her office at Schafer Chiropractic, 1801 Breton Rd SE, Grand Rapids, claiming to be from Consumers Energy.

The person went on to say that the business missed payments and technicians were on their way to shut off the power. She told the person it was the landlord of the building who handled the account and wondered why they were calling her business.

She was told she would have to pay $760 right away to avoid being shut-off. "They call your office and they say someone is on the way and will be there in 45 minutes. We are a small business, we can't afford to have somebody shut our power off for any length of time. So, they're using this fear tactic on people."

Schafer did not give them any money and when she called them out on their scam, she says they hung up on her.

On Thursday, the Better Business Bureau of West Michigan sent out an alert about a similar scenario in Kalamazoo. The caller tells you that you've missed payments and technicians are on their way to shut off power to your business.

Luckily, the representative on the phone is a supervisor who can call-off the technicians and help your business keep the lights on, you just need to send the backed funds via MoneyPak as soon as possible. And since no one wants to lose a day of work because the power was shut off, you're willing to do whatever it takes to get paid up quickly.

This ploy was recently submitted to BBB's Scam Tracker by a business in Kalamazoo, MI and highlights how scammers devise all sorts of ways to create a sense of urgency and fear in their targets. And all too often, victims are then instructed to send money via non-refundable methods, and once sent, the money is gone for good.

That's why BBB wants to bring attention to situations like this because it reinforces why consumers need to stop, think, and research before reacting to these types of solicitation.

Here are helpful tips to know if you're ever approached like this:

  • Don't send gift cards or money orders. These forms of payment should be treated like cash, meaning once given away, they are impossible to get back.
  • Call to verify. If you feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the business' customer service directly to ensure you are speaking to a real representative.
  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. Legitimate contacts will leave a message and, even if a scammer leaves a message, this will give you time to think about what is being asked of you.
  • Resist the urge to act immediately. No matter how dramatic the story is, stop and think before you act.
  • Don't pay over the phone. Never give your credit card or banking info to an unverified or anonymous caller.
  • + Report it to Scam Tracker. This free resource provides a place to research and submit scam related information so BBB can investigate and educate consumers further.

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