ST. LOUIS – Wednesday is Utility Scam Awareness Day, and Ameren is warning its customers to be on guard.

“They’re just really good groomers and manipulators,” said Maria Gomez, a security supervisor for Ameren.

Gomez would know. She monitors the sophisticated and ever-changing tactics scammers use to rip off utility customers.

“The most prevalent and the one that’s been the most successful is the threat of disconnection,” she said.

With this scam, Gomez says the con artists prey on a customer’s fears of losing power to get paid fraudulently. Scammers will often use spoofed telephone numbers. It looks like Ameren on your caller ID, but it is not.

“If somebody calls you and you feel scared…it’s a scam,” she said.

Gomez tells us schemes involving seniors and Ameren smart meters are among the top eight scams the utility is presently tracking.

“They’re hitting on things people have heard to be true. ‘Smart meter.’ And that’s how they associate it to make the scam. What I’ve been seeing recently is a lot of rebates, refunds, and special senior citizen discounts,” Gomez said. “These are also geared not just to get money, but they obtain personal banking information to be able to give them the money back.”

Ameren warns customers to never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. And should someone come to your door saying they work for Ameren, ask to see their badge.

“When in doubt, don’t open the door. If you suspect it’s a scammer, a thief, or whatever, just call the police.” Gomez said.

If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 800-755-5000 or Ameren Missouri at 800-552-7583.

For more information, visit Ameren.com/stop-scams. Customers should also follow Ameren on social media to receive the latest updates on scams.

Sign up to manage your account online at Ameren.com, where you can immediately check the status of your account.