Archived Story

Niles warns of utility scam

Published 4:09pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

Too strapped to pay your utility bill?

Don’t despair. President Obama authorized credits to your account through a new national program.

If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

It’s actually the latest wrinkle in identity theft scams, from Jacksonsville to the Carolinas and as far west as Montana. Better Business Bureau issued a consumer alert in May.

Now the scheme is showing up in Niles, including three calls on Thursday from customers needing more information to participate in a program to pay their utility bills. One already furnished personal information.

“I’m really concerned because people are desperate right now,” Michelle Tomchak, Niles billing and customer service supervisor, said Thursday afternoon. “This is the first we’ve heard of it around here. It’s all over the internet. There is an array of websites.”

This multistate scam has con artists posing as utility company representatives to obtain Social Security number, credit card and bank routing information.

Some victims have been given fraudulent bank account numbers and asked to use this account when paying utility bills.

People have been targeted by phone, text message, through social media and even in person.

Never provide a stranger with sensitive personal information.

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