Consumer Affairs Warns Non-Profit and Business Owners of Utility Shut-Off Scams

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Miranda Pomiecko: (216) 698-2546; 

CLEVELAND – The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs and its Scam Squad partners are warning small businesses and nonprofits to be on alert for utility shut-off scams.

Some recent impostor scams, in which callers posed as Illuminating Company employees, requested payment in Bitcoin, which is not a payment method accepted by the electric company.

The targeted companies were told they were behind on payments and their power would be shut off in hours unless they made an immediate payment.

At least two such scams directed targeted companies to make a payment through a Bitcoin ATM. One company lost $3,000. Another was able to avoid the scam because someone had taped a note warning about the scam to the ATM.

An industrial company, a digital firm, a bar and a church have reported similar calls in the last few days.

“Power companies do not make calls threatening people with same-day or weekend shut offs. Only scammers do that,” said Sheryl Harris, Director of the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs.

Consumer Affairs urges all business owners to instruct staff to hang up on any call threatening immediate electric shutoff.

Companies or residents with questions about their bills should contact their electric provider using the number on their bills.

Report these scams to local police or to Scam Squad at 216-443-7226.