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Old 02-08-2012, 09:49 AM
Howard Hartman Howard Hartman is offline
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Default Utility Bill Scam

City of Takoma Park
Police Department

7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2012
Public Information Office             
301/891.7142 or 240/338.2901


Utility Bill Scam

The call goes something like this: “Give me a credit card number immediately to settle your overdue bill or we’ll have to cut off your electricity.”

And if you say you paid your bill? The response: “Your mailed check was unsigned and a credit card payment must be made immediately.”

Then, the scammer may tell you that the fastest way to avoid having service turned off would be to go to Walgreens or CVS and buy a prepaid Green Dot Visa debit card, because that would be the same as cash. Once they had the card, they were to call the scammer back and provide them with the information on the debit card.

The caller, of course, is a scam artist posing as a representative of the local power company. The goal is to get your credit card number for a shopping spree—or worse, to set you up for identity theft. The scammers usually also ask for your utility account number or personal information, saying they need it for verification purposes.

We have been told by two residents that this has happened to them recently, one from a scammer posing as a representative for a gas utility company. In that call, the scam artist asked the person if she or he had paid their bill last month. When the resident indicated it had been paid, the scammer then asked for a copy of the utility bill.
When the person told the scammer they didn’t believe they were from the utility company, the scammer hung up.

No matter who your service providers are, or what the service is for, here’s what you need to know:

Most utilities will mail one, if not several, past-due notices before terminating service.

If a legitimate company representative calls, he or she will always have your account information on a computer screen. It’s possible you’ll be asked for an account number, so that the caller can confirm you’re the person with authority over the account. If this happens, provide just part of the number, such as the last four digits, and then ask the representative for the rest of the number. Scammers will usually hang up at this point.

You have the option not to engage with the caller. Instead, dial the customer service number listed on your bill and ask if there’s an issue with your account.
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