FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Ahead of winter and cold weather on the horizon, experts are warning of utility scams.

Experts say scammers are using more advanced tactics to target utility customers of things like gas and water. That includes scammers contacting residents claiming they’re late paying their utility bill. Tracy Warner, Spokesman for Indiana Michigan Power, says they will never call customers demanding immediate payment. He says that’s an ultimate sign of a scam, and gives advice on how to be sure.

“The easiest step is to go to indianamichiganpower.com and create your account”, Warner said, “You can go online and see if you owe anything or not.”

Scammers will also make the caller-ID appear to be from a legitimate company, making you think it’s really that company calling. Jan Diaz, Vice President of the The Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana, gives tips on what to do if this happens to you.

“If someone has called, really just hang up, call the customer service department of their energy company to get accurate information,” Diaz said.

Diaz also notes to make sure to not give out any credit card information.

Diaz says another form of utility scams are impersonators showing up to your door. Diaz advises unless you have scheduled a utility service, do not let them in your home. She says if you have a scheduled appointment, be sure to ask for identification.

If someone demands you to make some sort of payment using gift cards or credit cards, Indiana Michigan Power advises you to take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Slow down. Scammers often try to hurry customers.
  • Verify. Scammers pose as utility company employees. If the scammer is on the phone, make sure they can verify they are with the utility or can verify your account information. If you are unsure, hang up and contact I&M directly by using the information on your most recent bill or the I&M website. Remember that scammers increasingly use “spoof” numbers that make it appear their call is originating from a legitimate business.
  • Stop before you act. Think about the information the caller is asking of you. If it seem unsafe or incorrect, rethink the situation and ask questions.