COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Scammers are finding new ways to impersonate Colorado Springs Utilities employees with detailed information that may be hard to identify as fraud.
The new twist
For years scammers have targeted their victims with threatening phone calls explaining their utilities at their home or place of business will shut down immediately because of a past-due payment.
So what's changed? Hackers are more commonly researching their victims before making the call or showing up at their doorstep. Often times they'll even state they have the victim's utility account number as proof they're legitimate.
"A growing number of scammers are targeting our customers both in person and over the phone, demanding immediate payment of a supposedly past due amount via credit cards and prepaid cards to prevent service from being disconnected," according to a statement posted on CSU's website.
Meet Lonnie and Michael
"It was absolutely convincing to the point we were worried about the customers in the store," said Lonnie Carter II, who co-owns an antique store in Colorado Springs.
Lonnie and his partner Michael were on their way to Pueblo when they received a call.
"They told us our utilities were going to be shut off, but it wasn't strange at first they were just so convincing," said Michael Hawkes. "They had all this specific information about our store, I don't know how they got it."
Instead of using threatening language, the scammers were polite.
"They kept telling me 'I'm just trying to do my job'," Carter said.
One of their employees checked the phone number on 411.com by clicking the reverse phone search, but the site didn't recognize the number to be fraudulent.
Tips and tricks
This scam, like many, is an important reminder why we should all have tightened privacy settings for any website or online account.
Det. Jon Price with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office explains scammers often utilize technology that can track their victim's passwords.
"Just that extra precaution of changing your password on a regular basis and making those passwords difficult to guess just adds an extra level of security," Price said.
Report a scam
Email me at Stephanie.Sierra@KRDO.com.