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Buffalo police are warning that businessmen and homeowners that they should just hang up if they receive telephone calls from people claiming to be from utility companies and threatening to shut off their service without immediate payment.

“Unfortunately, for the consumer, the scam artists stay up to date on new technology and even the caller ID may look like the call is coming from the utility company,” said Dennis J. Richards, Buffalo Police chief of detectives. Richards suggested any homeowner or business getting such a call should look up utility providers’ contact information on the Internet or recheck their latest billing statement.

What set the scam apart from other such crimes is that the caller insisted on receiving payment from a pre-paid debit car, which allows the scammer to have instant access to the money put on the card without being traced, Richards warned. Generally the power companies won’t shut off service for delinquency without written notification, he added. And power companies don’t ever demand payments from a debit card, he noted.