The phone rings. It's the local utility, the man on the phone says, and the electric account is past due.
But that man could be a scam artist, impersonating a Turlock Irrigation District employee in hopes of stealing identities and money.
The "utility scam" has long taken place nationwide, but TID reports some local customers have recently been victimized. The scammers, pretending to be utility employees, ask for payment or personal information - Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or bank information - and threaten to turn off electricity if the information isn't given.
The district urges customers to be skeptical of who is on the phone and protective of personal information, keeping in mind the following tips:
• Pushy people, especially those who threaten to turn off power, are likely not TID employees.
• The District does not solicit payments or disconnect power on weekends, after business hours, or on holidays when TID offices are closed.
• All TID calls come from the 209 area code. Most TID phone numbers begin (209) 883-xxxx, with calls from the Patterson office showing a (209) 892-xxxx number.
• TID does not solicit payments via e-mail, social media, text messaging, or any third party vendor. TID also does not contract with third-party door-to-door rebate or promotion companies.
• TID employees always drive white vehicles with TID logos on the door panels. The vehicles have State of California Exempt license plates.
• All TID employees have company-issued identification badges. All TID service workers wear blue shirts, with TID logos on the front and/or back.
If unsure of an utility employee on the phone or at the door, call TID at 883-8222 to confirm the person's identity and purpose.
For more information on utility scams, visit tid.org/scams