Attorney General Laxalt Warns Small Businesses of Utility Scam

March 2, 2015

Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt warns consumers about a scam directed at small businesses, regarding alleged unpaid power bills. All small businesses should be aware. Individuals claiming to be employees of Nevada Power, Southwest Gas or other utility companies call small businesses stating that their utilities will be cut off, unless an immediate payment is made. The caller usually asks payment to be made via Western Union, MoneyGram, Green Dot Card or other wire payments. In some cases, the caller ID may even cleverly show that the call is being made from the utility company. If the business calls the number back on the caller ID, an individual claiming to be employed by the utility company answers. These calls are not traceable, and are highly likely to originate from outside the United States.

    “This scam takes advantage of unsuspecting businesses trying to fulfill their fiscal responsibilities,” said Laxalt. “Be skeptical, be smart, be wary and don’t fall for this scam.”

      Nevada utility companies do not call customers, nor solicit payments for any reason by telephone. Customers, who may be at risk of having their power disconnected because of nonpayment, will receive a 10-day and 48-hour notice via the U.S. Mail. You will not be at risk for immediate termination of services without ample prior notice. Additionally, no utility company in Nevada will demand payment by Western Union, MoneyGram or Green Dot Card, much less allow their employees to take payments from these services. These untraceable forms of payment are popular among scammers.

        The attorney general’s office recommends that small businesses ignore such calls, and use only traditional payment methods to pay late bills. If you receive any demands regarding a utility bill, do not dial the number on your caller ID. Instead, use the number on your past utility bill, on the utility company’s legitimate website, in your local telephone book or online telephone listing website to settle the matter.

          For additional assistance, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit the FTC online here. If you believe you are a victim of a utility scam, file a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office here.