Ameren Illinois warns of phone scam urging fast payments

Ameren Illinois warns of phone scam urging fast payments

COLLINSVILLE — If you get a call from someone claiming to be from Ameren Illinois and threatening to cut off your service if you don't make a payment within an hour, this is a scam attempt, the utility has warned.

Ameren Illinois said Wednesday it's had reports from more than 50 customers this week who received these calls.

Scam artists posing as Ameren Illinois representatives are urging customers to make fast payments using prepaid money cards.

"Scammers claim they will disconnect service within the hour if a payment isn't made," said Shirley Stennis, director of customer service for the utility. "This is not a practice or policy of Ameren Illinois. In fact, we give our customers the opportunity to make payment arrangements and would never demand payment in this manner."

More than 3,100 Ameren Illinois customer have reported being victims of scams or attempted scams in the past five years. The current scam that's circulating is the most common one, the utility said.

Small businesses are frequently targeted because they produce larger amounts of money and fear having power cut off during their busy times, according to Ameren Illinois. Scams have cost Ameren Illinois customers more than $75,000 since 2013.

Signs of these fraud calls include the threat of immediate disconnection, requests for personal information such as Social Security and bank-account numbers and requests for payment using a prepaid card.

The suspicious call may also be coming from a local area code and not from a number that belongs to Ameren Illinois, the utility warned.

Anyone who believes they've received one of these calls is urged to report it to Ameren Illinois immediately at 800-755-5000.

Sections (3):News, Local, Business