Lower Merion Township: Pa. State Police Warn of National 'Utility Scam'

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dmuth's picture
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Last seen: 7 weeks 6 days ago
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Got this note from the township last week:

The Pennsylvania State Police have issued a Community Awareness Bulletin regarding a "utility scam" that is "sweeping the nation." The scam claims "that President Obama is providing funds to help consumers pay their utility bills."

"Imposters contact power company customers through telephone calls, mail, fliers, email, text messages, social media, and in person," the bulletin states. "After the victim is contacted, the imposter convinces them to relay personal information by claiming that the victim is eligible to receive cash benefits from a government program. After the victim provides their social security number, credit card number, and bank information, the victim is given a bank account and routing number to use when paying utility bills.

The victim is told the account is set up through a federal assistance program that will provide up to $1,000 toward the victim's utility bills." The State Police said that "while there is no direct or immediate financial loss to the victim, the victims are not[sic] susceptible to identity theft because they provided their personal information to the imposter. Additionally, their utility payment is now overdue and they could be assessed late fees or penalties for non-payment."

Thousands of Americans, including those in Pennsylvania, have fallen victim to this scam, the State Police report - most of them elderly.

If you think you have been a victim of this scam, contact your bank immediately. Contact the three national credit bureaus (Equifax at 800-685-1111; Experian at 888-397-3742; and TransUnion at 800-888-4213) and put a fraud alert on your account. Finally, contact the Federal Trade Commission and register an identity theft complaint at 877-438-4338, or www.ftccompaintassistant.gov.

I guess the moral of the story is that shopping around for utility providers is fine, but beware of solicitations from random companies.

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politeia's picture
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The further moral is not to give social security number, credit card number, and bank information to anyone unless you know exactly who they are and there is good reason to be giving this info to them.

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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