Ward informs constituents about utility scam
Rep. John Ward, DFL–Baxter, is informing constituents about a telephone scam affecting utility customers across the country. The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company who then employ a variety of techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately.
The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
“These scams continue to be a problem and I encourage constituents to remain vigilant,” said Ward. “If you receive a suspicious call, be sure to call your utility directly and verify the request for payment. That double checking can keep you from getting scammed.”
Electric customers have been targeted in several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and New Mexico.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a blog post to warn consumers. The text of that post can be freely reused and/or modified and is available at: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/09/utilityscam.shtm.
Consumers are urged to report suspicious calls to both the FTC or Public Utility Commission toll free at 800-657-3782 or by email at email@example.com.