State police are investigating a fraudulent scheme that targets utility consumers by phone.

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina is warning that scammers acting as utility company employees are calling consumers and saying that immediate payment is needed in order to avoid disconnection of services.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson says the scheme typically is aimed at people who may be more vulnerable due to their age, a language barrier, or other factors.

He points out that utility companies do not call and tell customers they only have a short time to hand over cash or they'll lose their electricity.

There is nothing wrong with you telling the person on the other end of the phone – whether they are real or unreal – telling them that you need to take about 10 minutes and you'll call them back...and then asking for a return number...and then call your actual utility company and verify,” Wilson advises.

The attorney general says anyone found trying to scam someone in South Carolina will prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.