ST. LOUIS - Energy company customers nationwide, including in Missouri and Illinois, continue to be a target of sophisticated scammers that regularly change and alter their tactics to deceive customers.
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Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois work closely with local and national law enforcement to monitor and report scammers and their ever-changing tactics targeting our customers. In addition, Ameren employs an ongoing scam awareness campaign to educate customers throughout the year to know how to spot a scam and how to report them.
"Unfortunately, these scammers are not going away and continue to be more aggressive and sophisticated in how they deceive and trick customers into providing immediate payments and personal information," said Maria Gomez, security supervisor for Ameren. "Some of the most recent scam tactics we are seeing locally include demanding an immediate cash app payment for a new smart meter or an offer to make an immediate cash app one-time payment to wipe away a customer's full amount due."
Ameren is joining energy companies worldwide for the seventh consecutive year for the Utility Scam Awareness Day on Nov.16, 2022. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of scams and educate customers before they become victims.
"Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) is a year-round awareness campaign supported by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) where utilities throughout the nation join together to promote scam awareness for their customers," said UUAS Executive Director Monica Martinez. "It's important that UUAS provides resources to EEI utility members to help educate their customers to know how to spot a scam and how to react to these imposters when they target them."
Top eight scams targeting customers:
- Posing as Ameren employees: Scammers often pose as Ameren employees, threatening to disconnect or shut off service if a customer fails to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or a cash app.
- Ameren appears on caller ID: They also often mask incoming calls so they appear to be from Ameren on caller ID systems and then give a different phone number to make a payment.
- Request smart meter installation payment: Scammers are now asking customers to make an immediate payment for a new smart meter installation or have their service disconnected.
- Targeting seniors: Senior citizens are increasingly being targeted as scammers look to confuse with special offers and disconnection threats.
- Immediate partial payment: A new scam involves an offer to forgive your full amount due on your statement if you make an immediate cash app partial payment.
- Call when you are busy: Scammers seize the opportunity to target customers during busy or high-anxiety times such as the holiday season or during the cold winter months.
- Charity Scam: Social media posts are engaging with customers with an offer that a charity will pay for their utility bills if the customer first makes a partial payment by money transfer.
- Telling you how to pay: Scammers offer suggestions on form of payment; loading an app, bitcoin, or locations of where to get cash cards.
Keys to protect yourself:
- Don't trust anyone asking for immediate payment. If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000 or Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583. Never purchase a prepaid card 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 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.
St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries. AmerenIllinois provides electric transmission and distribution service and natural gas distribution service. Ameren Missouri provides electric generation, transmission and distribution service, as well as natural gas distribution service. Ameren Transmission Company of Illinoisdevelops, owns and operates rate-regulated regional electric transmission projects.