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This simple scam has suddenly become more popular and could cost you up to $2,500

As temperatures drop across the U.S., the number of scammers posing as heating or electric companies is on the rise.

Utility-related scam phone calls soared 109% in 2016 and are expected to continue to rise as cold callers become more creative in fooling an increasingly savvy public, an analysis of 3.5 billion monthly calls and texts from spam protection service Hiya found.

“If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these calls and you’re not sure if it’s legitimate, hang up and call your service provider, in this case the number on your local utility company’s website or bill,” said Jan Volzke, vice president of reputation data at Hiya, which picks up calls automatically and blocks numbers that have been reported as telemarketers, robocalls or scammers.

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