Bryan Cohen Jul. 29, 2013, 5:19pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned consumers on Friday about recent phone scams related to utility companies.

Two Ohioans reported losing approximately $800 each after receiving a call from a person claiming to represent a utility company who demanded payment. DeWine's office received dozens of other consumer reports about unsolicited calls to purportedly lower their energy rates.

"With current technology, it can be difficult to determine if a call is legitimate or a scam, and with fluctuating temperatures and high bills, utility scams can be more effective," DeWine said. "It's important to remember that any time you receive an unexpected call, you have the right to ask questions, demand answers, or simply hang up."

In one scam, a caller pretending to represent a utility company calls an Ohio consumer and claims the consumer's electricity would be shut off unless the consumer sent hundreds of dollars through a prepaid money card. In actuality, the call was not coming from the utility company of the consumer.

In most cases, Ohio natural gas and electric companies must give consumers a 14-day notice before disconnecting utility service.

Consumers are also receiving unsolicited phone calls from individuals claiming they can lower natural gas rates for consumers. DeWine's office received approximately 100 complaints about the calls in the last two months. While the callers claim to represent Dominion, Dominion East Ohio said the business does not solicit consumers over the phone.

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