“You’re late. Pay up or else…”

Scammers need your money to enrich themselves. Will you give it to them when they request it? Let’s find out.

You receive a call from a person claiming to be from your utility company. The individual informs you that your account is past due and without immediate payment, your services will be terminated. Do you make the payment?

If you said yes, you’re a prime target for a scammer.

Scammers will use the threat of cutting you off from something you need to dupe you into sending them money or handing over your financial account information. The business “representative” may threaten and intimidate you with termination of service and the high costs of restoring service later if you don’t pay up immediately.

Don’t pay these scumbags. Here’s what to do if you receive this type of call or text.

First, tell the representative that you’re going to check your account online and decide what to do from there. Don’t argue with the person. Don’t provide any personal information. Don’t engage in a conversation with the person. Once you’ve told the person what you’re going to do, hang up the phone. If the person calls back, hang up. If you receive a text telling you to pay up, do not respond.

Second, check your account online for recent activity. If you’re late, your online account will reflect it. You can also call the company using contact information from your billing statement. Tell the representative what the other person told you and ask if your account is actually late. Write down the information the representative tells you as well as that person’s name, the date and time of the call.

That’s it. If you’re actually late on a payment, then the two steps above will let you verify that information. If you’re not late on a payment, then you’ll avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim.