today warned that a phony bill payment scheme has bilked unsuspecting utility customers across the nation by using a bogus claim that President Obama will pay their utility bills through a new federal program.
O&R says that anyone who is contacted about such a fraudulent program should immediately break off contact and call the police. Contacts with these criminals have been made door-to-door or soliciting over the phone or through fliers and the social media, according to the utility.
Here's how the scam works:
- The scammers make contact with customers, tell them about a fictitious bill payment program from the federal government to pay electric, water or gas bills and ask for personal information like a Social Security number or a bank account number.
- In return, consumers are given a fake bank routing number that they erroneously believe will pay their utility bills.
O&R says there is no actual program like this, and the scammers use the customers’ personal information to steal the customers’ identity or empty their bank accounts.
The utility wars:
- Never provide your social security number, credit card number or bank information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident that the transaction is legitimate.
- If you are contacted by individuals who say they represent O&R and you wish to verify their identity, either ask for their photo ID card, if they are at the door, or call O&R at 1-877-434-4100 to verify their identity and the nature of their business with you.