Beware of COVID-19 Scams: Utility Scammers

With COVID-19 comes a lot of new problems. Some we adjust to, some are temporary. I’ll never understand how scammers can do what they do to innocent people. Which is why I wanted to pass on this information I received from The National Consumer League (NCL).

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) has issued a warning today for consumers about a reported increase in scams by con artists posing as utility company representatives who are threatening to shut off subscribers’ power service if they don’t make an immediate payment.

The anatomy of the scam is highly consistent: a consumer receives a call from someone claiming to be with the electric utility company. The caller warns the consumer that their power is about to be shut off over an unpaid bill. The only way to avoid this is to pay up immediately, typically via wire transfer, gift card, or some other difficult-to-stop payment method. So what can we, as consumers do?

Such a call can be very scary—particularly for those who may need electricity to power medical devices or run their small business. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers are having trouble keeping up with their bills, which may make them even more vulnerable to this scam. And even for consumers who are confident they’ve paid their bill, the impending threat of a shut-off at the height of summer heat can cause a panic. 

To avoid becoming a victim, consumers should:

  • Not panic. According to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, electric utilities in all 50 states have placed moratoriums on disconnections during the COVID-19 crisis, either voluntarily or in response to government orders. If someone contacts you claiming that they’re about to shut-off your electricity, it’s a scam. 
  • Contact the power company. A utility will never initiate a disconnection without contacting you via the mail first. If you received a call from someone claiming they’re about to turn off your power, hang up and contact your electric company. Their toll-free phone number and website address is typically listed on your electric bill. 
  • Beware of unusual payment methods. Anyone who asks you to pay an overdue electric or other utility bill via wire transfer, gift card, bank-to-bank transfer, bitcoin, or any other unusual payment method is almost certainly trying to scam you. 
  • Not give out personal information. Utility imposters may offer to connect their victims to federal assistance programs or payment plans to help pay their overdue bills. They just need to “verify” the victim’s information. In reality, these scammers are trying to gather the information they need to steal your identity. If you suspect something is amiss, hang up and call your utility company directly. 

NCL asks consumers to share their stories by filing a complaint at Fraud.org via its secure online complaint form. Complaints are shared with NCL’s network of nearly 200 law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who can and do put fraudsters behind bars.

Scammers like these are everywhere. Knowledge is power. Please share this information with friends and family.

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

After About 16 Years We Finally Switched Cell Phone Carriers and Saved Big Money

Years ago, I started my wireless service with AT&T. At the time it was just me and I don’t think smart phones were really a big thing. Maybe they were but I just don’t remember. My bill wasn’t bad and I got a nice discount through my employer.

When my husband and I got engaged I added him to my cell phone plan. Still it was reasonable and again, I don’t think smartphones were that big at the time. I think I had a plan that had unlimited talk and 200 texts a month. That was just fine for the two of us.

After we got married we ended up adding my father-in-law to the plan. Then several years down the road my oldest son. Cell phones and plans changed and our wireless bill was crazy. Even with the 24% discount I was getting through my employer it was insane. We stayed with AT&T though because we’ve had our numbers for so long and figured that was as good as we were going to get given the nice discount through my employer.

Then AT&T started with sketchy sales tactics. “Oh you’re getting a new iPhone we have a promotion right now where you can get a new ipad for $1” I asked about the catch, of course we had to add another line for it. I did it but almost immediately regretted it but we were stuck with it then. After having it for a year and a half I did a live chat. I told them I wanted to remove the ipad from our plan because it never connected to service anyway and could only use it with wifi. I told them I only wanted to do it if there was not going to be a penalty. If there was then we’d just keep it on the plan until we had to. They said no problem, took it off our plan then charged us $60.

We had talked about switching over to Consumer Cellular for some time but still had payments left on our phones. The ipad incident made me want to be done with AT&T. A few coworkers had switched to Consumer Cellular and save a lot of money. Then my father -in-laws phone broke. All the new phones were expensive or required a 2 year contract. I got a call from a sales agent for AT&T trying to talk me into getting my father in law a new Samsung for only $1 and I could save money if I switched plans and there would be a two year contract. I thought, oh no it’s the pad incident all over again. I said no. My husband and I decided it was time to call Consumer Cellular.

The sales agent was so nice and helpful. Answered all the questions I had and then some. You guys, we are saving over $100/mo by switching over AND get WAYYY more data to use. We only had 4 GB of data to share between the 4 of us with AT&T. Of course that never worked out with my teenage son and me being a blogger and social media influencer. We now have 25GB of data with Consumer Cellular for less!! Even without my employer discount. We have the same coverage because they use AT&T and T-mobile cell towers, we got to keep our phones, and keep our numbers!If you want to check out Consumer Cellular to see if they can save you money on your wireless bill too check out Consumer Cellular’s website here.

The links in this post are my Consumer Cellular referral link. If you go through one of those you’ll also get a $10 credit on your first bill!

Get Food From Your Favorite Restaurant Delivered with Door Dash

Many restaurants in my area are only offering drive-thru or take out service if they are able. Some restaurants just can’t offer that and had to close temporarily. One way to support your favorite restaurants at this time, help people not able to work their regular jobs, and get your food delivered right to you is with Door Dash.

You’d be surprised at what restaurants actually partner with Door Dash. In fact, one of our local mom & pop pizzerias just announced that they’ve partnered with Door Dash now so we can still get their food delivered!

Restaurants, especially small business/family owned, are struggling at this time. We’ve been trying to support these small businesses as much as possible.

Door Dash is offering $0 delivery fee on your first order right now:

So how does that help people that can’t work their normal jobs right now? Well, some are turning to doing things like driving for Door Dash to try to make some extra money. My brother drives for Door Dash in my area normally, just to try to make a little extra cash.

I’ll be honest I haven’t used Door Dash before but we’re planning to this weekend from one of our fave small business restaurants in our area, The Orchard. They have amazing wings. Can’t wait to get my hands on some of the creamy garlic wings.

What is your favorite local restaurant that you like to support?

This post does contain affiliate link. I will get a small commission on sales made through my links.

Finding Remote, Work-From-Home Jobs

At a time when many people are temporarily out of work, more and more people seem to be searching for jobs. Jobs allowing people to work from home are very appealing.

The coronavirus quarantine has brought “stay-at-home” orders to many states. I live in Pennsylvania. There is now stay-at-home orders for the entire state. I’m a healthcare worker at a local hospital and my husband is a corrections officer at a state prison. There is no stay at home for us but I feel for those that aren’t able to work right now. I’m somewhere between being grateful to still be working to being afraid to still be working if that makes sense.

If you are one that’s at home right now you may have been looking for possible jobs that allow you to work from home. Most school age children are home with homeschooling set up now which makes it even harder to leave for a job. But if you’ve done the searches, you know there are a lot of work from home scams out there.

Flexjobs is one sources for remote, work from home jobs. Check out their site here:

I was actually surprised how many jobs can suddenly be work from home when it seemed like it wasn’t possible before. Insurance agents, teachers, telemarketers, radio dj’s and more. Turn on the TV and you’ll see a lot of talk show hosts doing their shows from home. I’ve heard of people doing medical transcription from home. I honestly considered going into medical transcription for a short time.

Access to full service starts at $14.99/mo with a satisfaction guarantee.

I hope this site is helpful to you. I wish everyone good health and hope this is all over soon!

affiliate link: I will get a small commission from sales made through my links.

Create Images For Your Needs with DesignCap

As a blogger and social media influencer, I used design websites and software fairly often. There is one in particular I had been using for years which will remain nameless. One day I decided to cute expenses and got rid of that website. Then I realized how much I used it. When I decided to sign up again they raised the prices. I felt like I had no choice though. Having no graphic design knowledge, I needed simple. Then I came across DesignCap.

DesignCap is very affordable even offering a free option. The top tier account is DesignCap Plus and it’s still more affordable than that other site I was using.

Design cap is not just for header images and social media headers though. They offer templates for infographics, business cards, invitations, reports, brochures, and more! Making this a great tool for businesses and entrepreneurs to use too. Create images for your needs. Pull from DesignCaps stock photos or your own.

Here is just one example of the eye-catching templates on DesignCap:

Brochure template front
brochure template back

DesignCap is easy to use and requires no graphic design experience. You can use one of the templates or create your own designs. Add in your own business pictures, change words, fonts, sizes, whatever you want.

DesignCap is localized to 7 different languages including: English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, French, Chinese.

The site was so easy to use. They offered more options for images, icons, colors, and fonts than the old site I was using. I created the header images for this post in a matter of minutes. It was so easy, no stress or frustration. I encourage you to try it out today.

Visit DesignCap.com to create an account.

I was gifted the DesignCap Plus account to try it out all the features for this post. No other compensation has been received.