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Ameren: Utility scams are on the rise. Here's how to avoid becoming the next victim.

Utility scams are on the rise in Southern Illinois and Ameren is offering customers advice on how not to be tricked.

The company said in a release on Wednesday customers should be on high alert.

"The best way to combat scams is to understand the tactics criminals use to trick people into giving up their personal information," Shirley Stennis, director of Customer Service at Ameren Illinois, said. "Scammers have become more sophisticated by masking phone numbers to appear that the call is from Ameren Illinois or by calling residential or business customers during busy times of the day in an effort to confuse their victims."

Scammers will often pose as Ameren employees and use fear, threatening to disconnect or shut off service to customers, to get a payment. They may also mask incoming calls to make it seem as though they are coming from the company, according to Ameren.

Ameren said the best ways to spot a scam include understanding these techniques and understanding scammers may claim a person needs to pay for equipment, or bogus repair fees, or an overpayment that the company would not normally ask for.

Some key ways to protect yourself according to the company include:

  • Never give your credit card, debit card, social security, ATM, checking or saving account numbers to anyone who calls, sends a text message or email, or comes to your home requesting this information.
  • Don't trust anyone asking for immediate payment. If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren Illinois employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000.
  • Never purchase a prepaid card or download a cash app 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.

For more information, visitAmeren.com/stop-scams. Customers should also follow Ameren Illinois on social media to receive the latest updates on scams.

 

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Reporter

Kallie Cox is a general assignments reporter for The Southern with interests in political science, crime and courts, immigration, and social justice. Kallie is a SIU student and joined the newsroom staff in 2021. kallie.cox@thesouthern.com

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