Bryan Cohen Jan. 28, 2014, 3:16pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned Ohio consumers on Friday about email messages that appear to be utility bills, as they are likely part of a scam meant to trick utility users.

In the past two weeks, DeWine's office received more than 30 reports of utility bill email scams from Ohio consumers throughout the state. DeWine warned consumers not to respond to the emails and not to pay the purported bills without proof of their legitimacy.

"With bitterly cold temperatures affecting the state, you might expect your utility bill to be higher than usual," DeWine said. "But if you're receiving unexpected utility bills from a company that's not your utility company, it's likely a scam. Don't respond to the message and don't make a payment unless you have proof you owe the money."

In a typical iteration of the scam, a consumer receives an email message that claims to be from an out-of-state utility company like PG&E. The message claims the consumer owes $344 or $559 and may include a link to see the consumer's account or most recent statement. DeWine said that consumers should not click on the links.

DeWine reminded consumers that natural gas and electric companies must give consumers 24 days of notice prior to disconnecting service during the heating season of November 1 through April 15.

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