A national scam involving con artists who pose as representatives for utility companies has hit the Chicago area hard and officials are warning residents to be prepared.
Scammers have been targeting northern Illinois customers of Nicor Gas, ComEd and Peoples Gas, both via phone and in person, authorities said.
According to victims, the scammers instruct customers to wire funds or buy prepaid credit cards and call them back with a personal identification number otherwise their utility service will be disconnected.
The scammers tell the customers their billing cycle has changed, payment is past due or previous payments did not go through.
“These scammers are sophisticated and it is very important we do all we can to raise awareness and warn customers,” said Martin Montes, director of regulatory affairs at ComEd.
One woman said she lost $850 in the scam after they targeted her small suburban business.
“I wouldn’t have done it if it was my home,” she said. “I would have thought this isn’t right. But because it’s a business and food, I didn’t want anything that would get my customers sick because of bad food.”
ComEd, Nicor and Peoples Gas have each reported a rise in the number of reported scams.
They advise customers to:
- Never give payment information or account information out
- Insist to see proper company identification and if you ever have a doubt
- Call the number found on your official bill before doing anything else