Nationwide “Green Dot” Telephone Utility Payment Scam Hits Saginaw, Mich.

Beware of a utility payment scam that requires a Green Dot card.
Beware of a utility payment scam that requires a Green Dot card.

The nationwide scam demanding people quickly pay utility bills over the telephone using a Green Dot prepaid credit card has recorded its first incident in Saginaw County.

Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel, said a local business in Kochville Township and Consumers Energy customer was the target of the scam, and paid $500 using a Green Dot prepaid credit card.

“We want business owners and residents to know that the Green Dot scam is just that, a scam to take your money. We want to warn them to never be pressured into making payments over the phone using a prepaid credit card, or to share personal information over the phone with anyone they don’t know,” Federspiel said.

Reports of this scam have come from Consumers Energy customers across the state beginning in mid-2013. Since Aug. 16, 2013 a total of 293 people have reported incidents in which callers have falsely claimed to represent Consumers Energy.

A typical Green Dot scam usually involves a caller, who can speak English and Spanish, demanding payment for a Consumers Energy bill within an hour, and the customer is told to purchase a Green Dot prepaid credit card available at drug and food stores. People are then directed to call an 866 toll-free phone number to pay their bill using these cards.

Consumers Energy offers the following four tips to customers to help avoid scams:

  1. Consumers Energy never demands payment over the phone using only a Green Dot card.
  2. Customers should never give money or personal information such as account and credit card information over the phone to anyone they don’t know.
  3. Customers are encouraged to share information about this scam with friends, family and neighbors to help prevent additional victims.
  4. Residential or business customers who believe they may have been victims of this scam or who have related concerns should call their local law enforcement agency and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.

Tips on avoiding utility fraud and other scams are available from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Consumers Energy offers a variety of payment options, including:

  • the ability to pay over a secure Internet site
  • via U.S. mail
  • in person at an authorized pay agent location
  • by Visa, Mastercard or eCheck using an authorized Consumers Energy EasyPay agent