New phone scam offers discounts on utility bills

A phone scam officials haven’t seen before is targeting Maryville residents.
WVLT News at 5 pm
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - City of Maryville officials said a new phone scam is circulating in the area, and they haven’t seen one like this before.

“I’m not sure that we’ve gotten one similar to this one,” said Jane Groff, Director for Administrative Services in Maryville.

Phone scams are always a threat. Groff said a common one is when scammers call people, tell them their utility bill is overdue and threaten to shut off their electricity unless they pay over the phone.

However, a new scam takes a new approach.

“The scammer went forward with saying, ‘Yes, you qualify and we can get you 35% off of your utility bill,’” Groff said.

She said they first heard of this scam on Monday and have gotten a handful of tips about it since. Groff said at least one person has fallen for it, although it’s unknown how much that person lost.

She said while only a handful of people contacted the city to report the scam, she suspects there are many more cases where the scam went unreported.

“I do know that the numbers that showed up on caller ID were local,” Groff said. “So they were probably spoofing those numbers.”

Groff said there are several red flags.

First, Maryville does not call its utility customers.

Plus, they do not offer discounts on their bills, and they do not demand payment over the phone.

“Anybody who’s offering you something that maybe sounds a little too good to be true. That’s a little bit of a red flag,” Groff said.

Groff said the police department is aware of the scam.

City officials are encouraging people to report any scams to the police department at 865-983-3620 or the city’s customer service number at 865-273-3456.