Local and regional officials are sounding the alarm on scammers posing as employees of utility companies.
According to Idaho Falls police, a resident told them he had been contacted by a person claiming to represent the city utility department.
The person told the resident that his electric bill was overdue and demanded the resident pay $400 or he would be disconnected the next day.
He paid the $400 over the phone using a prepaid VISA card, as instructed by the caller. The resident was again contacted and told he would need to pay an additional $500. The resident became suspicious after the second call and contacted the city utility department and the police.
Police said this was not the first time this has happened. They and the city utility department remind residents that this is not standard protocol for utilities. Residents who are subject to disconnection will receive a series of bills in the mail and a final door card. It is not standard for the city utilities to telephone customers about disconnects, police said. If you receive a call regarding disconnect in Idaho Falls, call the utility office at (208) 612-8281 or 612-8291 or the police department at 529-1200 to report.
Rocky Mountain Power customers are getting hit with a similar scam. Utah officials said scammers are calling the utility's customers, pretending to be employees. The scammers claim they can get customers' bills paid for free.
The company serves various locations in southeast Idaho, as well as Utah.
The Utah Department of Commerce said the suspects call seniors and tell them they can get a utility bill credit through an Obama administration grant.
Authorities said the scammers ask potential victims for their credit card, check routing and Social Security numbers to complete the arrangement.
Commerce officials said some victims are told their electricity will be cut off if they don't provide credit card information.
Rocky Mountain Power officials said customers can call the company if they're suspicious about similar calls. The utility says its true employees always wear identification and will always have the customer's account number. RMP can be reached at (888) 221-7070.