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Scammers posing as KCP&L target metro businesses as temperatures drop

Posted at 10:00 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 23:23:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As snow falls across the metro and the temperatures drop, businesses beware. 

A scam is targeting businesses and using sophisticated methods, like spoofing the name and number of local utility companies, to get money. 

"We're used to scam calls but this one was so real," said Leslie Quirk. 

Quirk received a phone call from someone pretending to be KCP&L, warning her that her family business had an overdue bill. The caller then said she owed money for a new meter, transferring her to the "billing department."

The caller wanted her to send money quickly, in a very specific way. 

"They didn't tell me to go downtown or any place where there is an actual KCP&L office. They would do a cash off of our credit card. That even the people at Walgreens or Dollar General could help me," she said. 

Linda Hanson received a phone call, too. Her caller ID said it was KCP&L.

"There's that panic in your stomach. And the truth is, I do pay my bills on-time but there are a lot of them. As a small business, there's a lot of bills to pay and you kind of worry in that instance, did something slip through the cracks? Because they sound very authentic and efficient," she said. 

Neither Hanson nor Quirk fell victim to the scam. 

KCP&L told 41 Action News it has received dozens of phone calls about this scam. The company never calls and immediately asks for money. Instead, KCP&L will send multiple notices by mail before they turn off your utilities. 

If you have a question about your account, KCP&L call 888-471-5275. 

Here are tips to spot this scam, from the BBB: 

  • Prepaid debit cards and wire transfers are a red flag. If a caller specifically asks you to pay by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, this is a huge warning sign. Your utility company will accept a check or credit card.  
  • Pressure to pay immediately. Scammers will press for immediate payment and may try to intimidate you into giving them your personal and banking information.

Protect Yourself Against This Scam:

  • Call customer service. If you feel pressured for immediate action by a caller, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative. Never give your personal or banking information to an unverified or unsolicited caller.
  • Never allow anyone into your home unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification before letting them enter.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.