Even though this scam has been widely reported on, and in some cases arrests have been made, it's still happening enough that Commonwealth Edison issued a warning about it just days ago.

Back in November, I posted a story on this website about a senior citizen couple in Niles who fell victim to a man dressed in the reflective gear that a utility repair worker might wear. He told the couple that there had been a nearby power outage, and that he needed to be taken immediately to their fuse box to prevent the box from becoming a fire hazard.

While they showed the man downstairs to the fuse box, the phony utility worker's accomplices let themselves in upstairs and began ransacking the couple's home. The male homeowner ended up chasing them off with a shillelagh, but in many other cases, the homeowners were unaware that they'd been robbed until much later.

In their press release, ComEd says that individuals have been posing as a ComEd worker, a representative of another utility, or even a tree service company employee. They'll either try to get you outside to discuss some made up problem while their pals sneak into your house, or they'll do it the way they did in Niles, by asking to be taken to your fuse box inside. The result is the same--they try to steal everything they can carry out in a short period of time.

ComEd says that their tracking has shown this sort of scam has increased by 60% since 2017.

But wait, there's more. ComEd:

Another common scheme involves scammers using technology to make their phone calls appear to come from a ComEd phone number and threatening to turn off a customer's service unless they make a direct payment with a prepaid cash card. Sometimes they ask victims to call back at a different phone number and provide personal information. In other attempts, scammers send emails to businesses and request that they send ComEd payments to bogus payment web sites.

To keep yourself protected, the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that you should never allow anyone in your home without verifying their identification thoroughly. You should also know that utilities like ComEd don't come to your door to demand payment of any sort. They also won't call you to ask for your account numbers or any other private information, and they will never demand immediate payment via prepaid gift or debit cards.

When in doubt, call the utility directly. If you feel threatened, call the police.

 

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