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Utility phone scams reported in area

Ameren Missouri and the Park Hills Police Department are warning residents about a scam that has seemed to specifically target small businesses in recent weeks.

On Feb. 8, Ameren released a statement regarding the reported scams, saying the company had received reports of scammers contacting businesses in Arnold, High Ridge and Festus.

The scammers appear on caller ID as if they are calling from Ameren and claim that the business is late on its utility bill. The callers reportedly insist that the bill must be paid immediately to avoid a disruption in service, and then give a number to call to make a payment through.

Lt. Doug Bowles of the Park Hills Police Department said there has been one similar scam attempt reported to the department from a local business, Title Cash on Science Street.

Tonya Beard with Title Cash said the business received a call making claims about the business’ utility bill being late, but the call was cut off before the caller had finished. Beard contacted the business’ corporate office, who informed her they had received reports from other branches of such scams.

In the released statement, Ameren lists several tips to protect against being scammed:

  • Never give out your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or saving account numbers to anyone who calls, sends an 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 employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Missouri at 1-800-552-7583.
  • Never purchase a prepaid card 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, mail or at pay in person locations.

Bowles said in any case of a questionable caller, individuals should never give out their personal information such as dates of birth, Social Security numbers, banking information or any other information that can be used to financially exploit an individual.

Police in communities from Poplar Bluff to as far north as Herculaneum are investigating a debit card skimming operation that seems to be mostly centered from Desloge to Farmington. 

Police in communities from Poplar Bluff to as far north as Herculaneum are investigating a debit card skimming operation that seems to be mostly centered from Desloge to Farmington. 

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

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