It can be unnerving when the utility company calls and tells you they're shutting off your power because you haven't paid your bill. Grand Valley Power says before paying any money make sure it's the utility company calling and not a scam.

No one wants to have their gas or electricity shut off, especially in the colder months of the year, and scammers play on that emotion to convince people to pay what they don't owe to someone they don't owe it to.

Grand Valley Power, as part of Utility Scam Awareness Week, has some good advice for those who are contacted by phone, email or text.

If the caller claims to be from the utility company and demands payment on an allegedly delinquent with a prepaid card, it is a scam. Don't fall for it. If you're concerned, call the utility company directly. If that's Grand Valley Power, the number is 970-242-0040. If it is another company, their phone number will be on your utility bill.

Likewise, if contacted by email or text, don't necessarily trust that it is from the utility company. An email requesting you to click a link for information about your account could be a phishing scam or a way for the scammer to install malware on your computer.

If you receive an email, the safest thing to do is find the legitimate website of the utility company and use your browser to access the website directly. Again, when in doubt, check your utility bill for a phone number to call and/or the website address.

Same for a text. Don't respond to the text without first contacting the utility company and asking about the content of the text message you received.

As with any unsolicited phone calls, emails, texts and the like, do not ever give out any personal information. Even if the person calling knows your name, don't be fooled into giving them any information. If they're legitimate, they already have that information.

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