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Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

 

Ameren Says It’s Scamming Season Again And It’s Best To Be On Guard For It

Tis the season for increased activities across the lake area.

Unfortunately, one of those activities also on the increase is scammers who target utility customers.

That’s according to Ameren which says the scams are usually the same…with the scammers contacting customers trying to get financial information for transactions that include the offer of a rebate or refund because of an overpayment.

Scammers will also threaten disconnection of services, a senior discount and asking for an upfront payment for a smart meter to be installed which are, in reality, done at no charge for Ameren customers.

Scammers will also come to the door for a payment representing themselves as being from Ameren.

The main precautions, according to Ameren, include: being aware of false urgency to make a payment, never use a pre-paid card or cash transfer apps to pay a bill and, when in doubt, contact Ameren or local law enforcement if you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer.

 

Full release:

The summer season has become prime time for aggressive scammers to increase their activity by targeting utility customers throughout Illinois and Missouri. Ameren is encouraging both residential and business customers to be aware that they may be contacted by a scammer looking to steal money or obtain personal or financial information.

“Unfortunately, utility scams continue to be an ongoing issue for our customers, but it’s encouraging that more customers are becoming aware of these scams and not falling victim to their tricks,” said Maria Gomez, security supervisor for Ameren. “The sophistication of the scams is increasing as new technology provides more ways to mask or make the scams seem more legitimate.”

Customers should be very aware, especially during the summer months when they are busy with vacations, special events and as social activity increases, which may lead to being distracted and getting scammed.

Since the start of 2023, approximately 1,000 Ameren customers have reported a scam to the company, while hundreds of other scam attempts often go unreported. The total amount of reported money lost by Ameren customers in 2023 is more than $15,000. In 2022, more than 3,000 scams were reported to the company.

Ameren wants customers to notify them of any suspicious communications so they can alert other customers to scams that might be circulating. Report a potential scam to Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000 or Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583.

Top 5 most common scams reported in Ameren’s region include:

  1. Rebate, refund or overpayment scam: This scam is increasing as thieves offer customers a rebate or refund if they provide financial information for the transaction. Ameren would never request a customer’s financial information for a refund or rebate.
  2. Threat of disconnection scam: This is one of the most often tried scams that uses a scare tactic that a customer will have their service disconnected if an immediate payment is not made, generally with a request to use a cash app or prepaid card.
  3. Senior discount scam: Scammers also have been targeting seniors, offering a discounted rate to pay their utility bill upfront.
  4. Smart meter installation scam: As Ameren installs smart meters in Missouri, some customers are receiving calls from scammers asking for an upfront installation fee. Remember, there is no installation cost for your upgraded smart meter.
  5.   Ameren imposter at the door scam: This scam is more prevalent in Illinois where various utility service providers are available but can also occur in Missouri. Customers are encouraged to always ask for identification and never provide any form of payment to the person. Close the door and reach out directly to Ameren to inquire about any service or account issues. Please report suspicious people to the police immediately.

Key tips to protect yourself from scams:

  • Beware of false urgency. Scammers often push customers to act immediately. Remember that Ameren will never require immediate payment.
  • Never purchase a prepaid card or make a Zelle, Cash App or Venmo transfer 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.
  • 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.
  • Report to your local police department as soon as possible if you have given the suspected scammer money.

For more information, visit Ameren.com/stop-scams. You also can sign up to manage your account online at Ameren.com so you can immediately check the status if you think you may have been scammed.

Reporter Mike Anthony