Don’t fall for this solar energy phone scam

SALT LAKE CITY — The New Year has brought a new phone scam consumers need to watch out for.

The Utah Department of Commerce learned about the scam from a former state utilities employee. Someone called his cell phone pretending to be from a fake government agency called “Utah Public Utilities Commission.” The caller urged the man to get in on a special solar energy deal.

“This comes across as a very credible phone call to the Utah Public Utilities Commission which is one word away from an actual legitimate, credible government agency,” said Daniel O’Bannon, Director of the Division of Consumer Protection.

Knowing the agency doesn’t exist, he didn’t fall for the pitch and hung up.

The Division of Consumer Protection warns if people aren’t paying attention, they could easily get sucked into the scheme.

“If he had gotten the call and proceeded, they would have asked for personal identifying information, bank account information or money of some sort,” said O’Bannon.

Impostor scams take many forms, but they work the same way. Callers impersonate the government, convince you to take advantage of a “good opportunity” and demand money.

“It can be very costly, whether it’s coming over the phone or over the internet,” said O’Bannon.

Here’s how you can beat scammers at their own game:

Don’t wire money. Once it’s gone, you’ll never get it back.

Don’t pay for a prize. If you enter and win a legitimate sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay insurance, taxes, or shipping charges to collect your prize. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize.

Don’t give the caller your financial or other personal information.

Don’t trust a name or number. Scammers can fake the caller ID.

“Stop it before it starts. Hang up the phone,” said O’Bannon.

If you would like to file a complaint, click here www.consumerprotection.utah.gov