This week, more than 25 small businesses in Greater Peoria area, including several in Pekin, have reported suspicious activity. The majority of those incidents were phone calls from scammers who threatened immediate disconnection of utility service unless a payment was made from a pre-paid debit card.
"Our business customers in particular have been recent targets of this scam, however, residential customers must also be vigilant because they are often targeted with a variety of scam tactics as well," said Shirley Stennis, Director of Customer Service for Ameren Illinois. "Scammers claim they will disconnect service within the hour if a payment isn't made. 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 a payment in this manner."
Ameren Illinois offers these tips to protect customers against scammers:
• Never give your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who comes to your home, calls or sends an email requesting this information. Ameren Illinois never demands personal, account or financial information for immediate payment.
• Never let anyone into your home claiming to be from the utility unless they show proper Ameren Illinois badge identification. Ameren Illinois employees are not allowed to take payments in the field.
• Never open email attachments unless you've contacted Ameren Illinois for specific information. Ameren Illinois never sends emails with attachments included, unless you've contacted the company to specifically request information.
Ameren Illinois continues to work with federal, state and local authorities to investigate utility scams. "We continue to safeguard customer information, but it's up to our customers to recognize the warning signs so scams can be prevented," Stennis said.
If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren Illinois employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000 Customers can also follow Ameren Illinois on social media to receive the latest updates on fraudulent account activity.