Huntsville Utilities customers are targets of a phone scam, again

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville Utilities customers are once again the target of a phone scam they've seen time and time again.

Although it's nothing new, WHNT News 19 is taking action to help you avoid becoming a victim.

The scam starts with phone calls to customers, saying they didn't pay their bills, and demanding they pay right away. It's the same fraudulent call the community has already experienced.

Joe Gehrdes represents H-U. He says,"customers will get a call from someone claiming to be a utility representative, demanding payment immediately or within some pretty unreasonable time period. If you don't wire money, they threaten to disconnect your account."

Gehrdes says Huntsville Utilities doesn't do business like that. If there is a problem with your bill, he says a representative will call. However, they won't demand money and they won't ask for you to pay in 10 minutes!

If a customer service agent calls you and you think it's a scam, Gehrdes says always ask.

"Even if they think it might be us, call us up and verify that that's the case because that's not the way we handle payment."

The new peg to these scams is the short time period the caller gives to pay them money you don't owe.

Calls started pouring in Wednesday, which is why it is a great time to remind customers what to look for this time around. As of Thursday morning, a dozen customers called in to report this scam. Gehdres says the scam they're seeing is also very broad.

"They are not discriminating between residential and business accounts. And the numbers generally do not originate from the 256 area code."

If you see a call coming from another area code, where the called is claiming to work for Huntsville Utilities, Gehdres says it's a scammer.

"If it doesn't sound right, just call us up. We will verify for you," he says.

Hopefully the calls stop, but if that's too much to ask for, officials want you to at least be mindful and know what to look for so you aren't the next victim during this round of Huntsville Utility scams.

To contact Huntsville Utilities, click here.



1 Comment

  • Ralph Connor Jr

    Huntsville Utilities fostered this scam through their change in billing policy that is clearly printed on every bil and threatens disconnet. The top line reads ******************FINAL NOTICE********** in bold type. The first time I saw it, I felt my services were threatened and I called customer service to complain about never having received any prior notices to the final notice and to make sure my services weren’t going to be cut off as abruptly as the printed policy states. It is over-the-top and has created the threatening environment that makes a small number of their customer base overly-sensitive and susceptible to fraud. Scammers wouldn’t be able to benefit by exploiting these customers if it weren’t for the way this policy is communicated. Before some of you rant and rave about the people who don’t pay their bills that need this additional incentive, let me be clear we’re talking about customers that are good people that pay their bills but aren’t as conneceted to what is going on in oour society through no fault of their own. Think the aged, the physcially or mentally challenged or handicapped, the young and inexperienced (though they are at least connected to our world and get smarter, faster), or the soft-at-heart sensitive to not wanting to be the bad person. This is a significant population in the customer base and they are exactly the people scammers are targeting. They outweigh the number of customers who would be considered as deadbeats The rest of us who just hang up the phone as soon as we hear anyone that sounds like a telemarketer are not their concern since they’ll eventually make a dollar or two off of someone they can socially engineer into paying up. The only saving grace is that some of these scammers are just smart enough to pull it off initially but not smart enough to be able to get away from it once someone is on their trail. Maybe a few of us need to say “Sure, what’s that account information you want me to send payment to, again?” and forward that on to law enforcement. I certainly wouldn’t work with HU since they are the root of the problem in the first place!.

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