Alliant Energy wants to alert its customers to be mindful of a phone scam.
Fairfield resident Laura Sage reported the scam to the utility earlier this month. She received a call on her business line from a man who said he was from Alliant and that he had a work order to disconnect her business?s electricity.
?He said he would be here in 45 minutes, but if I took care of the bill before then, he wouldn?t turn it off,? Sage said.
Sage said the man sounded as if he had worked in a call center before because he was prepared with ?information? like the work order number and the phone number Sage could call for questions. He told her the business owed Alliant $1,593, and that Sage should pay the bill by purchasing three gift cards for $595 each.
?He had me going for a while, but that was a red flag,? Sage said. ?I finished writing down his extension number, and I realized this is not real. I told my boss I?m certain this is a scam.?
Sage?s boss called Alliant and learned it was indeed a scam.
Alliant spokesperson and senior communications partner Justin Foss said it?s important to learn the telltale signs of a scam, though scammers are constantly changing their tactics and pitches to try to fool the public.
?We?ve heard the one about the guy who?s in the neighborhood with a work order to disconnect, but if you send the money right now, he?ll skip your house,? Foss said. ?Sometimes scammers will target restaurants by calling at 10:45 a.m. and threatening to disconnect in the next 20 minutes. The owner is worried about missing out on the noon rush, and that can cause them to make a bad judgment.?
Foss said the best defense against scams is to know where your account sits.
?So often, these customers aren?t behind on their bills at all, but they are pressed into thinking they are,? he said. ?Second of all, we just don?t call and demand money from you over the phone. Their whole premise is not something we do. We don?t demand immediate payment to avoid disconnection.?
Gift cards don?t fly
Furthermore, Alliant does not accept payment through gift cards such as MoneyPak, which is how scammers want people to send money because it is untraceable.
?If someone is behind on their bill, we make multiple attempts to get ahold of them,? Foss said. ?We?ll call, send a letter or leave a door tag.?
Foss tells customers that if they think they?re being scammed, just hang up the phone.
?If it?s really us, we won?t be offended you hung up,? he said. ?If they give you a call back number, don?t trust it. Call the number on our website or on your bill.?
Alliant can be reached at 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268).