Bryan Cohen Apr. 23, 2014, 2:32pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane warned consumers on Monday about new electricity shut-off scams taking place in the state.

Kane's office received reports that utility customers are receiving calls from scammers pretending to be utility collection representatives. The callers threaten the consumer that electricity will be shut off if he or she fails to obtain a Green Dot MoneyPak card or wire money.

While Green Dot MoneyPak cards are legitimate and common reloadable debit cards, the prepaid cards are also preferred by scammers. As is the case with wire transfers, the scammers do not need to retrieve Green Dot cards in person. All the scam artists need is the number on the back of the card to access funds remotely.

"Don't get panicked if you receive a call like this," Kane said. "Contact your utility company directly and relay what has happened. The utility will be able to check your official account and reassure you about its status."

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission requires that utilities provide a written service termination notice to a consumer and additional personal contacts prior to discontinuing service. The notices provide a telephone number and office address so payment arrangements can be made.

Kane warned consumers never to give out personally identifying information, credit card numbers or bank account information to callers whose identity is suspect.

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