High Point police warning people about utility bill scams

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Det. Kim Rieson with the High Point Police Department hears it all the time.

"People get a phone call saying, 'Hey you're behind on your utility bills. We need you to pay,’" Rieson said.

People getting random calls from so-called utility companies, debt collectors or other organizations claiming you owe money, often threatening legal action.

Rieson says the phone calls are probably just scams to get your money.

"They're not going to threaten to send somebody out to arrest you or haul you off to jail if you don't pay your bill right then at that moment," Rieson said. "No legitimate company is going to tell you to do that."

Rieson says the scam is nothing new but resurfaces at least once a year, usually targeting different areas.

"They'll be successful for a while in an area then the scammers just move on to another block of numbers,” she said.

This week emails have come into FOX 8 from people saying they've gotten one of those calls.

"They may hit businesses,” Rieson said. “They may call individuals."

Police say the only way to know if it's legit is to call and ask.

"If you have concerns that maybe you haven't paid your bill on time or confused, look up the phone number on your prior bill and call that provider or company and ask them directly what's going on," she said.

Or if you're pretty sure it's a scam, Rieson says end the conversation immediately.

"Just hang up," she said.

Police say if you have been contacted by one these companies, go to the federal trade commission website at FTC.gov and file a complaint.