Columbia businesses are on alert for a phone scammer. The caller impersonates city utility employees and demands immediate payments for utility bills over the phone.
Brianne Vaught is a representative for Ameren Missouri. She says it’s important to never divulge personal information.
“Never give your credit card, your debit card, Social Security number, any sort of personal information to anyone who calls, or sends an email, or even comes in your home requesting the information.”
The calls appear as numbers from within the city and the scammers are even able to provide fake employee identification numbers. The caller uses the threat of immediate shut-off of utilities if the bill is not paid promptly, according to a press release issued by the city.
Lucia Bourgeois is the Communications Specialist for Columbia Water & Light. She says citizens should confirm any and all payment request with their utility provider.
“If they are requesting money, call your utility representative yourself to verify that this is a real charge.”
The city states that it will never demand payment by phone and it is not yet known if this is one person or a group of scammers.