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Bristol, TN – Telephone scammers are targeting utility customers in our local area.
Customers of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services have been targeted over the past two days in a ploy to extort money.
BTES is warning its customers about a scam that attempts to steal money using telephone calls threatening power disconnection unless credit card information is given over the phone or pre-paid gift card is purchased at a nearby retailer.
The caller presents themselves as a representative of the City of Bristol and informs the victim that their account is past due and their electricity will be disconnected that day unless they give their credit card number to the caller or purchase a pre-paid gift card and call them back with the information. The caller tells the victim that they must pay in this manner and not at the BTES office because it is the fastest way to ensure that their electricity will not be disconnected.
“BTES does not initiate calls to our customers requesting payments outside of our normal methods,” said Mike Browder, CEO of BTES. “Our customers can pay by credit card, but they go through our website to set that up.”
BTES is urging customers to remain vigilant.
Anyone receiving a suspicious call should not give out personal information, including account or credit card numbers. If you receive a suspicious phone call and the number is presented on your caller ID, document the telephone number and report it to BTES and local authorities.
To verify the authenticity of anyone claiming to be a representative of BTES, call BTES’ main line at 423-968-1526.
“We strive to make our customers aware of potential scams so they can protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft and other fraudulent activities,” said Browder.