ATLANTA - They're threatening and they're scary. Scammers, pretending to be from the power company, are preying on small businesses, threatening to cut off their power if they don't pay up.
Eva-Maria Connolly owns Art-Haus Gallery in Grant Park. She said the man who called her Friday morning seemed legit. He said her power bill was three months overdue, a technician would be out in 15 minutes to shut off the power unless she paid the technician $1,498 in cash.
"I know we have automatic payment at Georgia Power, unless we set it up wrong. I thought ‘Oh, my god, where did the money go. How much do we owe if it's really true?’" said Eva-Maria.
She worried what would happen to her weekend clients. She had a birthday party for 18 scheduled for Sunday.
"If they would have cut it off, no one would come out and reinstate it on the weekend, I would have had to wait until Monday," said Eva-Maria.
Eva-Maria's husband, Matthew, called them back. He said the caller ID showed "Georgia Power". Matthew said a woman answered and patched him through to a man.
"He said you were given three different letters and you didn't respond, we're having trouble with our online payment, and if you have to take care of it right away or we're going to take action," said Matthew.
Matthew was dubious. He hung up and called the number for Georgia Power that he found online. They immediately said Georgia Power would never send a technician out to collect money, it was all a scam.
Matthew and Eva saw through the scheme, but they worry not everyone will.
"I do know people fall for it, and that's what's upsetting. They prey upon that fear that people are going to lose their power and then potential revenue," said Matthew.
Recently, Georgia Power released the following information regarding scams.
Georgia Power works every day to not only keep customers’ personal information secure, but also to help inform and educate customers about common scams and fraud. Criminals have been known to attempt a variety of scams in person, over the phone and online, including social media.
Reminders from Georgia Power to avoid common scams:
"Georgia Power works every day to not only keep customers’ personal information secure, but also to help inform and educate customers about common scams and fraud. Criminals have been known to attempt a variety of scams in person, over the phone and online, including social media.
"Reminders from Georgia Power to avoid common scams:
- "Georgia Power does not demand payment in person at your home or business. If an account becomes past due, Georgia Power will contact the customer via a prerecorded message to the primary account telephone or by letter requesting that the customer call Georgia Power to discuss the account. The company will not ask customers to pay anywhere other than an Authorized Payment Location.
- "Georgia Power employees are easy to identify. If a Georgia Power employee has a service-related reason to visit your home or business, they will always be wearing a Georgia Power employee ID badge, in uniform and in a company vehicle.
- "Beware of phone calls demanding payment via phone. Georgia Power will never ask for a credit card or pre-paid debit card number over the phone. If a customer receives a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from Georgia Power and demanding payment to avoid disconnection, they should hang up and contact the company’s 24-hour customer service line at 888-660-5890."