(WXYZ) — DTE Energy is now issuing an advisory after receiving heartbreaking reports of scammers who are calling customers during the cold weather, threatening to cut off their service.
One local woman is sharing her story with 7 Action News.
Janet Lowry of Clawson said she always pays her bills early, but she got a call recently from a local number, with a recording saying her DTE Energy bill had not been paid, and her power was about to be shut off.
"They said 'Press one' to talk to somebody, and I just did it without thinking," she explained.
Then she said a real person who knew her name came on to reiterate the warning.
"What about this particular call really set your alarm bells off?" I asked Janet.
"I think it was that, first of all, they said my electricity was going to be turned off in 30 minutes and that it was ‘red-tagged,'” Janet told me.
But, Janet knew her account was in good standing.
"Then I thought, ‘Janet. This is ridiculous. You know.' And I just said, ‘Okay, well I’m going to call DTE. Thank you!'" she said, making a hand gesture akin to hanging up a phone.
She called the actual customer service line and DTE Energy, and verified that the caller was an impostor. DTE said she made the right decision.
Dana Blankenship with DTE Energy said some scammers use what's called "ID spoofing" where the number that pops up even looks like DTE's number.
Here are the red flags:
- If they ask for your account number
- If they claim service will be cut off in minutes unless you pay now
- If they demand a certain form of payment (prepaid cards, bitcoin, zelle, etc)
"There are times where we have to make contact with customers regarding the status of their account, but just know that DTE never uses threatening or bullying behavior on the phone especially demanding immediate payment," Blankenship said.
If your account is in trouble, DTE will contact you numerous times to discuss payment assistance programs. But, if a person knocks on your door claiming they work for DTE, ask to see their ID badge and what work has to be done.
You can also call DTE right then to verify. If you think it's a con artist, shut the door and call police.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and AG's from 47 other states are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to adopt a new rule to target impersonation scams.
If you think you may have been a victim, call DTE and the police to report it. Also, take advantage of free credit reporting, that way you can watch out for any new accounts that may open in your name.