New scam claims to be Consumers Energy

Posted at 8:27 AM, Dec 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-23 08:27:14-05

For 28 years, Tammy Ching has been in charge of the books at all the House of Ing restaurants.

"I'm the one paying the bills," said Ching.

So when she got a call one day saying the business hadn't paid its Consumers Energy bill, she knew something was wrong.

"I was thinking for a second and to checking all my bills and I know oh ok, I already paid for, so don't worry about that one," thought Ching.

Each Chinese food location under House of Ing has gotten at least one Consumers Energy scam call, some more than 10 over the last year.

"The scammers don't take off the holidays, and people might be in a more rushed mentality," said Terry DeDoes with Consumers Energy. "So we do see that they just keep on attempting to make their scams all year long."

And while Ching didn't fall for it, other customers have, giving criminals more than 80 thousand dollars just this year.

"They can even make you look like they're calling from Consumers Energy on your caller ID," explained DeDoes.

Businesses in Ingham and Jackson County have lost more than 10 thousand dollars.

"If someone's on the other end of the phone demanding payment within a short amount of time and forcing you to use one way to pay, that's not us," said DeDoes.

And recognizing that is the best defense against scammers.

"Give Consumers a call," said Dedoes. "We'll go ahead and verify your account information."

And reassure you it's not them on the other line.

"They target businesses because they need to open the door," said Ching. "They can't afford to shut down the business."

And she hopes other small businesses like hers don't become a victim.