Please be aware of a nationwide phony bill payment program that promises to credit or pay utility bills in exchange for personal information, including Social Security numbers and banking information which could lead to identity theft. The scam, which has been reported in a number of states, claims that the Obama Administration is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills.
How the scam works:
From the Better Business Bureau - tips to avoid falling for this scam:
- Customers are contacted via door-to-door agents, fliers, text messages and phone calls and are told that the federal government has a program to pay utility bills on a one-time basis.
- The thieves ask customers to provide their Social Security numbers to apply for the program.
- The scammers give customers a Federal Reserve Bank routing number to use when paying their bills online. Customers who use this number are led to believe that this account number belongs to the U.S. Government and can be used to pay their utility bills.
- News of this phony program is being spread by users of social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
From the Federal Trade Commission - what to do if you think your identity has been stolen:
- Never provide your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
- If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone 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 have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
- Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics.
We remain committed to protecting your privacy. Please keep in mind that Official Payments will never call and ask for personal information, send e-mail containing attachments or require you to send personal information to us via e-mail. Any unsolicited request for Official Payments' account information should be considered fraudulent and reported immediately.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review them.
- Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.