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Residents warned of telephone utility scams

MARQUETTE — Scams where callers pretend to be from a utility company are back, according to Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO). The company issued a warning to consumers about callers who say they are with the company and demand immediate payment, often in the form of gift cards or Bitcoin. Some calls even show up on caller ID as coming from a utility company though deliberate caller ID falsification — a deceptive practice called spoofing.

“UPPCO will never require a prepaid debit card, gift card, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency for payments,” according to Brett French, vice president of business development and communication. “We won’t use ‘bullying tactics’ when calling customers; demand immediate payment to keep services from being turned off; collect payments at a customer’s home or business; or, ask for bank account information or credit card numbers by phone.”

In addition to phone scams, customers are reminded legitimate utility workers won’t coerce residents into letting them into their homes. “Our workers always wear a company ID and are prepared to show proper credentials upon arrival at a customer’s home or business,” said French.

Customers who have given bank account information to someone they think may have been an impostor should call their bank and local police department. A complaint can be filed with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at www.michigan.gov/AG and the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357.

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