CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Commerce Commission warned consumers Wednesday of a recent scheme in which scam artists pose as utility employees and ask for immediate bill payment.

The ICC received multiple complaints from utility customers in the Chicago area about scam artists claiming to be utility representatives and telling customers that the service will be disconnected unless immediate payment is made to the scammers. The con artists ask for immediate payment at a customer's door, over the phone or via e-mail.

The scammers direct the consumers to buy a prepaid credit card called a Cash Card and call them back with the personal identification number. The con artists may claim that the customer's billing cycle is changing and payment must be made immediately or that the account is past due and payment should be made directly to avoid disconnection.

"If someone appears at your door claiming to be from your utility company and asking for immediate payment of your bill, I would slam the door in their face, call the police and contact your utility company directly," Madigan said. "Utility companies do not go door-to-door collecting payments. Any consumer who has provided their personal information to make an on-the-spot payment to someone claiming to represent a utility company should contact my office's Consumer Fraud Bureau with the details."

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