FROM STAFF REPORTS
July 12, 2012
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a nationwide warning about a new scam claiming that President Obama will pay your utility bills through a new federal program.
Consumers have been contacted through telephone calls, fliers, social media, text messages, and word-of-mouth with claims that the federal government is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills.
To receive the money, scammers claim they need the consumer’s Social Security and bank routing number and/or account number. In return, customers are given a fraudulent bank routing number to use when paying their utility bills through an automated service.
The payment service initially ‘accepts’ the payment, but then declines it within a few days when the bank account number is discovered to be fake. The consumer’s bill has not been paid, and their personal financial information and Social Security number have been compromised.
The BBB has these tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
•Never provide your social security number, credit card numbe,r or banking information to anyone requesting to anyone who calls you, regardless of whom they claim to be representing.
•If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
•Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
•Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics over the phone for information or in person to get into your home.
For more information about identity theft scams, please visit the BBB online.