July 5, 2012
Fraud Alert: BBB Issues Nationwide Warning
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a nationwide warning about a new scam claiming that President Obama will pay consumers’ utility bills through a federal program.
How the Scam Works:
Consumers are being contacted via telephone, fliers, social media and text messages and various other means with claims that President Obama is providing credits or applying payment to utility bills.
To receive the money, scammers claim to need the consumer’s Social Security Number (SSN), financial institution routing number and account number. In return, the consumers are given a fraudulent financial institution routing number to use in order to pay their utility bills through an automated telephone service.
The payment service initially seems to accept the payment but then declines it within a few days of finding the banking information to be invalid. The consumer’s bill has not been paid and his/her SSN and personal financial information have been compromised.
The BBB offers the following tips to help consumers avoid becoming victim of this scam:
- Never provide your SSN, credit card number or banking information 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 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 reported a problem. Also, ask the employee for proper identification.
- Think safety first, always. Do not give in to high pressure tactics for information over the phone or in person.