On Your Side Alert: Don't fall for utility scam calls

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A local business calls 12 after receiving a suspicious phone call. The caller claimed to be with Dominion Virginia Power and threatened to shutoff power if the company didn't pay up.

Employees at Precision Tune Auto Care in Richmond are used to fixing cars but recently, workers were posed with a problem that had them stumped. It started with a phone call. An employee was told the power bill was overdue and if he didn't pay up right away, services would be shut off.

Lee Oppenheim is Vice President of Franchise Development for Precision. He was there when the service tech took the call. "He believed. He didn't know it that it wasn't real. All he knew is that someone was calling and that he's got customers in the workshop and a bay full of jobs that need to be done; and if I lose power in 30 minutes, that is going to mess up our day here" he explains.

That caller claimed to be with Dominion Virginia Power and demanded a payment of over 9-hundred bucks. Oppenheim got suspicious and contacted his Chief Financial Officer, "Our CFO told that guy, this is a scam, you are not really Dominion Power and the guy hung up real quickly," Oppenheim says.

Dominion is aware of these scams and has warnings and tips on its website. The company says it will never call you asking for specific payment. It advises, if you get one of these calls, hang up and contact Dominion directly. "Our employees couldn't have paid the money but if it had been a small business, someone in a hurry, trying to keep continuity of business, they might have just lost a thousand dollars," he says.

The scam has been around for while but it was Oppenheim's first time hearing about it. He called 12 hoping others wouldn't be in the dark if they get a similar call, "NBC 12 is a great Amber Alerts of sorts for scams like this, so the community can become more involved. I mean, education is everything," he says.

Dominion also advises, if someone shows up to your door claiming to be with the company, make sure you ask to see their official Dominion ID.

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