Bill payment scam targets small businesses

Kissimmee Utility Authority is warning its customers to beware of an active bill payment scam targeting small businesses in Kissimmee.

Since Monday, the utility has received multiple reports from businesses that have been threatened with service disconnection for unpaid account balances, even though these customers were not behind on their payments.

So far, these scammers have been successful in obtaining a combined $2,000 from three unsuspecting Kissimmee businesses, KUA officials said.

The businesses were contacted by phone by individuals claiming to be from KUA, warning them that service would be shut off immediately unless the customer agreed to make an immediate payment using a prepaid debit card.

Threats of immediate disconnection are generally a sign that customers have been contacted by a scam artist. KUA provides a mailed past-due notice and an automated reminder call before terminating service, but never demands direct payment over the telephone. If customers wish, they can arrange for a payment by check, credit card or debit card if they speak directly to a customer service representative or pay online at http://ebill.kua.com.

KUA offers these tips to avoid falling victim to a utility scam:

If contacted by a suspicious individual representing KUA, hang up the phone or close the door, and call the utility’s direct phone number at 407-933-7777 to confirm an identity. Representatives from KUA always carry proper identification.

Do not give a caller or visitor cash, a prepaid card, such as a Green Dot or MoneyPak card, a wire transfer or any other form of payment that may be difficult to trace.

Ignore suspicious requests for personal information such as bank account numbers, user names and passwords, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.

Delete any emails from utilities that are not your service provider.

Delete all suspicious emails that require immediate action to verify or demand personal information.

Customers approached for this type of personal information, or who believe they may be a victim of a scam, should report the incident to the utility and local law enforcement.